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M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.S. 








191 1 



G. H. SAVAGE, M.D., r.E.C.P. 

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It would appear, 'prima facie, that few studies are 
more important than that of Conduct ; for man is 
engaged in conduct during the whole of his waking 
life, and even the times, places, and occasions of sleep 
are parts of conduct. Conduct is what we are all 
engaged in, from birth to death ; and yet, though 
many departments of conduct are described in many 
books, there is not in existence, curiously enough, 
any comprehensive study of conduct as a whole — any 
general view of the field of human activity. 

Ethics, or conduct as right and wrong, has been 
studied for millenniums ; the actual conduct of men 
in concrete affairs has been, for millenniums, described 
in history ; isolated departments of conduct, such as 
that which is engaged in the production and distribu- 
tion of wealth, and those of many crafts and arts, 
have been the subject of study for generations, and 
have been described with the utmost care and partic- 
ularity ; innumerable societies have been founded for 
the promotion of conduct in this or that respect ; 
the press teems with books and articles, advocating 
conduct of this or that description, setting forth its 
advantages, describing its peculiarities, and instructing 
the reader how it is to be followed ; but of conduct as 


a whole ; of what it is ; of its nature ; its varieties 
and kinds ; of their relations to each other ; of its 
vagaries and disorders ; no book treats : no study 

In the execution of conduct as a whole, as in that 
of its several departments, mankind has contrived to 
get along very well without that systematic study of 
it, that we term the science of the subject. No 
doubt, they can reason very well without studying 
books on logic ; they can bake and brew, weave and 
tan, make chairs and tables, plough, sow, and reap ; 
all without studying these subjects in books ; but no 
one doubts that the reasoning faculty is sharpened 
by the study of logic ; or that brewers and bakers, 
weavers and tanners, carpenters and joiners, farmers 
and stock-raisers, are better equipped for their several 
avocations by studying them systematically in books ; 
and to say the least, no one who is engaged in execut- 
ing conduct, that is to say, no living human being, 
is likely to pursue his conduct less capably from 
having studied it systematically. 

Apart from the general advantage to every one 
who has to engage in conduct of any kind, of having 
a systematic knowledge of that mode of conduct ; 
and therefore to every one of having a systematic 
knowledge of conduct as a whole ; there are certain 
special advantages to be derived from a study of 
Praxiology, if I may so term it. 

In some departments of knowledge and practice, the 
study of conduct as a whole is of prime importance. It 
is especially important in Education and in Psychiatry. 
If education is, as I think it is now acknowledged to 


be, the equipment of the young human being for the 
arduous struggle in and for life, it is surely desirable 
that the educator should be assisted by a systematic 
knowledge of the primary and secondary aims of life ; 
of their relative importance ; of their meanings ; of 
their relations to each other ; of the different ways 
in which they may be sought ; as well as of the by- 
paths and cross-roads into which the pursuit may be 
erroneously directed. It is, however, in the study and 
treatment of Insanity, that a systematic knowledge 
of conduct at large is most necessary ; for insanity 
is in the main, disorder of conduct ; and for disorder 
to be estimated, order must first be known. The 
first task of the physician, who desires to treat dis- 
orders of bodily function, is to learn what these 
functions are, and how they are performed in health. 
A repairer of steam-engines or motor-cars who had 
made no systematic study of the way in which they 
work when in order, would scarcely be considered fully 
equipped for his task. Yet the psychiatric physician, 
whose function it is to treat disorders of conduct, not 
only makes no systematic study of conduct, but 
denies that such a study is desirable, even if he admits 
that such a study is possible. 

The difficulty is, of course, that the study of con- 
duct never has been systematised. There is no science 
of human conduct ; and the question at once arises, 
is it possible to create such a science ? Is not con- 
duct altogether too variable, too erratic, too much 
the creature of choice, and caprice, and chance, and 
circumstance, ever to be susceptible of reduction 
to system, and to be treated scientifically ? This 



depends much on what we mean by Science ; and 
few words have l)een more abused, or used in more 
senses, or with more ambiguity, than ' Science ' and 
* Scientific' 

By the science of a subject, is often meant a 
knowledge of the laws of that subject ; and if the 
subject has no laws, then of it there can be no 
science, in this sense. No doubt, one of the aims 
of investigation is to discover those uniformities 
that we call natural laws ; but science, though it 
depends on investigation, is not the same as inves- 
tigation. Again, scientific often means accurate ; 
and scientific knowledge is opposed to inaccurate 
knowledge. No doubt, another aim of investigation 
is to increase the accuracy of knowledge ; but know- 
ledge may be scientific and yet be inaccurate. The 
progress of science carries with it increase in the 
accuracy of knowledge ; and increase of accuracy 
implies some inaccuracy to begin with. Science is 
none the less science, though it is lacking in perfect 
accuracy. In my view, science is organised know- 
ledge ; it is systematised knowledge ; and it is as 
easy to organise and systematise the knowledge of 
human conduct, as of anything else. The advantage 
of the systematisation of knowledge is that it enables 
us to see exactly in what respects our knowledge is 
deficient, as well as to estimate the bearing of one 
item of knowledge upon another. Unorganised 
knowledge may be compared to a heap of chessmen 
piled on a table. From inspection of such a heap, 
it would be impossible to tell whether it contained 
a complete set, an imperfect set, or a mixture of 


parts of two or more sets. But if the chessmen are 
systematically arranged in their places on the board, 
we can see at a glance, not only whether they are all 
there, but if not, precisely what piece is missing ; 
whether any are redundant, and if so, what are the 
redundant pieces ; whether all belong to one set, and 
if not, what pieces are intruders. Similarly with the 
systematic arrangement of knowledge, which consti- 
tutes science. The systematic arrangement enables 
us to see at a glance whether, and in what respects, 
our knowledge is defective ; whether we have confused 
the knowledge of one thing with the knowledge of 
another ; and what the relations and bearings are, 
of one part of our knowledge with another. 

Science, then, is knowledge that is organised or 
systematised ; and this book is an attempt to organise 
and systematise our knowledge of human conduct. 
Until conduct has been investigated on a systematic 
plan, it is premature to declare that it is not subject 
to law ; for only by systematic investigation are laws 
discovered. In one department of conduct, systematic 
investigation has been pursued for generations ; and 
though there is much controversy as to what the laws 
are, no political economist has any doubt, that in the 
production and distribution of wealth, the conduct of 
mankind does conform to certain natural laws. I do 
not pretend to investigate conduct in general with 
anything approaching the thoroughness with which 
the production and distribution of wealth has been 
examined. In the establishment of every science, 
two stages are recognisable. The first stage is to 
collect facts, to classify and arrange them ; the second 


is to discover the laws in accordance with which the 
facts occur. It is the first, or natural history stage, 
that is here attempted with respect to human con- 
duct ; and it seems to me no more difficult to study 
conduct systematically, and so to reach that organised 
knowledge that we call Science, than to study any 
other subject in the same way. According as the 
system is good or bad, well or ill adapted to its 
purpose, the result will be better or worse ; it will 
be rudimentary science or developed science ; but 
as long as some system is employed in the investi- 
gation, the knowledge will be organised into science 
of some kind. 

The principle on which the investigation of human 
conduct is here made, is the biological principle. I 
have estimated the various modes and phases of 
human activity, in the light of their value in secur- 
ing the survival of man in the struggle for existence. 
As judged by this principle, every mode of conduct 
has its value, positive or negative ; and most modes 
of conduct are positively beneficial at some times, in 
some circumstances, in some degree ; and in some 
respects ; while they are at other times, in other cir- 
cumstances, in other degrees, or in other respects, 
injurious. It will come as a surprise, I dare say, 
to many, that such modes of conduct as the creation 
of beautiful things for the sake of their beauty, or 
the observances of religious ceremonial, have a bio- 
logical value, and tend to enhance, or to injure, the 
chances and prospects of survival in the struggle for 
life ; and it may seem, I fear, to votaries of art or of 
religion, that such a mode of regarding these phases 


of conduct is derogatory to them, and disrespectful. 
No disrespect is intended, however ; nor do I think 
that any derogation from the high rank and position 
that such modes of conduct take among human 
activities, need result from the examination of them 
on biological grounds, and the appraisement of their 
biological value. Viewing them, and all other modes 
of conduct, in the dry light of science, it would be 
irrelevant and impertinent either to praise or blame ; 
either to attack or defend. My aim is merely to 
describe and explain ; and if my descriptions are 
accurate, and my explanations satisfy the minds of 
my readers, I have accomplished my task. 



Preface . . . . . . . vii 

Introduction ...... xix 



Action as Spontaneous or Elicited . . .3 

Action as Abundant or Scanty .... 9 


Action as Instinctive or Reasoned . . .12 


Instinct and Reason . . . . .30 

The Fossilisation op Reason into Instinct . . 30 

The Liquidation of Instinct into Reason . . .36 


Action as Self-indulgent or Self- restrained . .44 

Action as Impulsive or Deliberate . . .50 

Action as Voluntary or Involuntary . . .53 

Action as Novel, Habitual, or Automatic . .55 




Action as Original or Imitative . . . .64 

Action as Crude or Elaborate . . . .68 

Action as Play or Work . . . . .71 

Action as Skilful or Unskilful . . . .73 



Purposes or Ends . . . . . .77 


Directly Self-conservative Conduct . . .88 


Indirectly Self-conservative Conduct . . .115 


Social Conduct . . . . . .128 

Influence on Conduct of the Mere Existence of Others 130 

The Social Instinct . . . . .130 

Influence on Conduct of the Presence of Others . 133 

Social Inhibition ..... 133 


Influence on Conduct of the Attention of Others . 139 

Shyness : Self-consciousness . . . .139 

Influence on Conduct of the Estimation of Others . 145 

Ambition: Pride: Vanity: Conceit . . .145 




Influence on Conduct of the Approval of Others . 155 

Elicited Morality . . . .155 


Influence on Conduct of the Liking of Others . 181 

Suavity . . . . .181 

Influence on Conduct of the Will of Others . .186 

Leading and Subordination . . . .186 


Influence on Conduct of the Example of Others . 191 

Custom and Fashion . . . . .191 


Influence on Conduct of the Action op Others . 221 

1. On Ourselves ..... 221 

2. On Others . . . . . .228 

3. On Circumstances ..... 234 


Spontaneous Social Conduct .... 236 

1. Towards the whole Community 

Patriotic Conduct . . . .236 

2. Towards Sections and Classes of the Community 

Philanthropic Conduct . . . 240 


Spontaneous Social Conduct — continued . . . 242 

3. Towards Individuals : Spontaneous Morality . 242 

a. Self- RESTRAINING or Passive . . . 245 

b. Active . . . .261 
Antagonism of Social and Self-regarding Conduct . 268 

xviii CONDUCT 



Social-Eacial Conduct . . . . 274 

Chastity and Modesty . . . . .274 


Racial Conduct . . . . . .288 

Courtship ...... 289 

Jealous Conduct ..... 299 


Eacial Coi^DVCT—contimied ...... 304 

Marital Conduct . . . . 304 

Parental and Filial Conduct . 306 


Indirectly Vital Conduct . . . . .314 

Recreative Conduct . . . . .316 

Aesthetic Conduct ..... 325 


Investigation . . . . . . 333 


Eeliqious Conduct . . . . . .347 

INDEX . . . . . . .371 


Conduct is Action in pursuit of Ends, and is com- 
posed of Acts undertaken to attain Ends. To study 
conduct systematically, therefore, it is necessary to 
discover the nature of action ; the different kinds of 
action of which man is capable ; the ends that he 
seeks to compass ; the relative importance of these 
ends ; the harmony or conflict among them ; their 
subordination and superordination to one another ; 
the biological reasons on which they are based ; and 
any other information we can obtain concerning 
them. For the present purpose, we need to discover, 
also, the disorders to which conduct is liable. 

Action must first be distinguished from movement, 
with which it is sometimes confounded. A bodily 
movement need not be an act ; and an act need not 
be a movement. The movements of epilepsy, of 
chorea, of paralysis agitans, and other nervous 
maladies, are not acts ; and if we ask why they are 
not acts, the answer that would most frequently be 
given would be that they are not voluntary — that 
they are not initiated or directed by the Will. In 
treating of Conduct, however, it is desirable to 
eliminate, as far as possible, reference to mental 

states and processes. We shall find hereafter that it 



is not always possible to eliminate such reference 
completely, but at least it should be minimised. 
Already there is great confusion between the two 
sciences of Psychology and Praxiology, and it is 
most desirable to keep them distinct. Moreover, 
there are acts, as we shall presently find, with which 
the Will is not concerned, and therefore the inter- 
vention of volition affords no distinction between 
Action and Movement. The true distinction is that 
action is always purposive : mere movement is not. 
An act always serves an end : a movement need 
serve no end. The movements of the nervous 
maladies, already instanced, are mere movements, 
for they are not purposive. They serve no purpose, 
and contribute to no end. May we then say that 
action is purposive movement ? By no means, for 
there are many acts that are not movements. There 
are many acts that are, on the contrary, arrests of 
movement, many that consist in suppression of 

Every arrest of movement is not an act, or the 
termination of a fall would be an act ; nevertheless, 
there are arrests and suspensions of movement that 
are as plainly and truly acts as the most elaborate 
movements of handcraft. If, in crossing a street, I 
stop to let a cab go by, my arrest of movement is as 
purposive, as is my resumption of movement when 
the cab is passed. When counsel declines to cross- 
examine a witness, his abstention is as much an act, 
and may have as much bearing on the verdict, as if 
he had badgered the witness for an hour. ' Not to 
decide is to decide ' says the old saw ; and not to 


move is, in many cases, to act. If the police tell me 
to move on, and I stop still, I am charged with doing 
an illegal act : I am not charged with negligence, 
and so to charge me would be wrong, both in law 
and in Praxiology. If I see a man drowning, whom 
I could save by stretching out my hand, and I 
purposely refrain from doing so, I am as guilty of his 
death as if I held his head under water. To stare a 
person out of countenance is an act ; to stand still is 
as much an act as to walk ; to leave off doing a thing, 
or to refrain from doing it, is as much an act as to 
do it. What imparts to these suppressions and 
arrests of movement the quality of action, is their 
purposive character. They are not, indeed, move- 
ments, but they are things done, and done with a 
purpose ; and it is the purpose that constitutes 
action. An Act, then, is movement, or arrest or 
suppression of movement, done with a purpose. 

By an End is meant a purpose. The End is the 
purpose served by the Act. Whether it is the end, 
in the sense of being the ultimate goal of the opera- 
tion, or whether it is a proximate aim, whose achieve- 
ment is sought, not for itself, but as a means to some 
further end, does not alter its character as an end 
for the purpose of the argument. I reach for my 
hat for the purpose of putting it on, and this is the 
proximate aim or end of the act. This end is not 
the ultimate goal of the act, for the putting on of 
my hat is but a step to going out ; and this, again, 
is a means of getting to the station ; the end of 
which is to take the train. The taking of the train 
is itself but a means to a further series of ends, — of 


getting to town, seeing my solicitor, executing a deed, 
securing property, benefiting my family, and so 
forth, and so on. Each of these is an end, but a 
proximate or intermediary end. Certain ultimate 
ends there are, as we shall find, in one or other of 
which all such trains or series of purposes terminate ; 
but for the present argument, an end is the purpose 
for which any act is undertaken. 

The study of Conduct resolves itself into the study 
of Action and the study of Ends, or Purposes, and 
these two branches of the subject demand separate 
and detailed consideration. 

The modes of action of w^hich mankind is capable 
are various ; or, to put it otherwise, action presents 
to our observation various qualities or characters, 
any one of which may occupy our exclusive attention. 
Each of these qualities varies from maximum to zero, 
and then continues to vary, on the minus side, from 
zero to maximum. Although each mode of action 
must be examined separately, it must be clearly 
understood that this separateness is the separation of 
analysis, and that any concrete act may display many 
or all modes of action in conjunction. The following 
Chapters of the first Book contain, therefore, an 
examination, not of acts, but of modes of action. 

Thus regarded. Action varies according as it is 

1. Spontaneous or Elicited. 

2. Abundant or Scanty. 

3. Instinctive or Reasoned. 

4. Self-indulgent or Self-restrained. 

5. Impulsive or Deliberate. 


6. Voluntary or Involuntary. 

7. Novel, Habitual, or Automatic. 

8. Original or Imitative. 

9. Crude or Elaborate. 

10. Work or Play. 

11. Skilful or Unskilful. 

For the sake of clearness and emphasis, I repeat 
that a single concrete act may exhibit a quality from 
every one of these contrasted couples. It may be 
spontaneous, abundant, reasoned, self-indulgent, 
deliberate, voluntary, novel, original, elaborate, play, 
and skilful. All these modes of action are found, by 
analysis, to reside in acts. 

To the study of Action the first Book is devoted. 
The second Book considers the Ends that Conduct 
strives to attain, and the means by which these ends 
are compassed. 





If we watch some very simple organism, such as an 
amoeba, which is a single cell, we see that, while its 
circumstances remain unchanged, the amoeba exhibits 
movement, which is to be regarded as amoebic 
conduct. It thrusts out a process here ; it retracts 
another there ; it becomes contracted in this place ; 
it bulges in that ; it forms vacuoles within its 
substance ; it changes its shape. These, the simplest 
manifestations of rudimentary conduct, in the 
simplest organisms, occur spontaneously. They are 
not responses to stimulus from without. The 
medium in which the animal is contained is motion- 
less ; and, during the time of the movements, under- 
goes no such local alterations of quality as are 
sufficient to account for the large and conspicuous 
movements of the amoeba. Whatever changes of 
shape, whatever locomotion, whatever motion, take 
place in the amoeba, are spontaneous. They arise, 
not in obedience to any stimulus applied from with- 
out, but out of the inherent activity of the amoeba 
itself They are expenditures out of the store of 
motion that is accumulated within its substance — of 



motion that changes from a molecular motion, which 
we cannot perceive, to a molar motion that is per- 
ceptible to our senses. 

The aimless jerkings and sprawlings and cryings 
of the new-born infant, are due, or need be due, to 
no irritation or stimulus from without, but to libera- 
tion of pent-up motion from within. That stimulus 
is not needed to provoke movement, is shown by the 
fact, known to every mother, that movement is 
antenatal. Such movements fall short of acts, it 
is true. They can scarcely be called purposive ; and 
yet, in a sense, they are purposive. They serve the 
purpose of getting rid of some of the stored motion 
which is accumulated in excess. In the more de- 
veloped and adult human being, the opening of the 
eyes on spontaneous waking in the morning, the 
throwing off the clothes and getting out of bed, are 
due to no stimulus from without, but to the liberation 
of motion from within. To the vigorous body comes 
a time when retention of stillness becomes irksome — 
becomes impracticable. The writer, after several 
hours at his desk, the traveller, after several hours 
in the train, must rise and stretch his limbs ; must 
get out and pace the platform ; not because he is 
incited or attracted to do so by any external allure- 
ment ; not because he is compelled by any external 
disturbance; but because motion has accumulated 
within him to a point of tension that overcomes the 
resistance opposed to it. When a man starts off for 
his game of golf, or his cricket, or his tennis, he does 
so, not — certainly not solely — because he is solicited 
by his fellow-player to do so, but because he feels the 


necessity of expending some of the store of motion 
within him, whose accumulation is become irksome. 
If he did not go to golf, or tennis, or cricket, he 
would do something else. He would walk, or ride, 
or row, or swim. Some exertion he must take, to 
get rid of his contained motion. No fresh man in 
the vigour of health can content himself with doing 
nothing. If he have nothing to do, he must make 
something to do ; for motion must be expended 
somehow. If there were no such store of motion, 
there would be no conduct, — no action. Man would 
not act, because he could not move. Thus it is true, 
at the top as well as at the bottom of the scale, in 
man as well as in the amceba, that the primary 
initiation of conduct, and the possibility of conduct, 
is the accumulation within the organism , of a store 
of motion that imperatively demands expenditure. 

On the other hand, much conduct is initiated by 
stimulus from without. The amoeba thrusts out a 
process at random, impelled to do so by the inherent 
motion of its own cell-body, even when no change 
in its surroundings elicits this protrusion ; but the 
presence in the medium of a small organic particle, 
fit to serve as food for the amoeba, may incite the 
protrusion of a process in the direction of the particle, 
and the absorption of the particle into the substance 
of the process. The new-born child will cry when 
it is replete with motion, without the stimulus of 
any irritant ; but it will cry when not replete with 
motion, if a pin is scratching it. The writer who 
has been for hours at his desk, will at length stretch 
and yawn in very weariness, that is, to expend 


motion that has been long accumulating ; but if he 
hears a crash in the next room, he will get up before 
he has reached the stretching and yawning stage, 
and go to see what has happened. The man who has 
had his game of golf or tennis in the morning, and 
so expended the motion that demanded expenditure, 
may be induced, by the persuasion of his friend, to 
play again in the afternoon, even though no inward 
craving prompts him to exert himself. 

Two partial, and, as I think, erroneous, views of 
action are in vogue. There is a school which traces 
all conduct back to a root in reflex action, and teaches 
that conduct of the most elaborate kind is but highly 
developed reflex action : with this doctrine I pro- 
foundly disagree. Action, in my opinion, has two 
roots, of which reflex action is but one, and the less 
important. The mainspring of conduct is not reflex 
action, but spontaneous action, — that expenditure of 
stored motion that is not elicited by the application 
of stimulus, but is the inevitable result of accumula- 
tion to a point of tension that breaks down resistance. 
If electric tension accumulates on the prime conductor 
of a statical machine, we can at any moment elicit a 
spark by approaching a conductor to it ; but if we do 
not approach a conductor, the tension will accumulate 
till it reaches a degree that overcomes the resistance 
of the air, and issues in a spark. If the tension of 
steam continually accumulates in a boiler, we can at 
any time obtain a jet by turning on a valve ; but if we 
neglect to do so, the tension will at length find relief 
by raising the safety valve, or bursting the boiler. 
Continually accumulating motion must find an exit ; 


and in the nervous system, motion continually ac- 
cumulates ; so that, sooner or later, action becomes 
inevitable, whether stimulus is applied or no. Later 
on, we shall find a large department of conduct, 
known as Recreative, that owes its origin to the 
necessity of expending accumulated motion, and 
cannot be accounted for by the stimulus of 

The other view of action ascribes its origin to 
volition ; and finds, in the will of the actor, a 
complete explanation of conduct. From this view also 
I dissent. In the first place, as we shall find in a 
subsequent section, there is a considerable class of 
acts that are involuntary, and in which w411 has no 
share or concern ; in the second, it is out of place in 
a study of conduct, which we must strive to keep as 
free as possible from psychological implications, to 
explain the origin of conduct in psychological terms. 
Our aim is to find explanations that are not psycho- 
logical but biological, and in this connexion an ex- 
planation in psychological terms is irrelevant. 

From the biological point of view, conduct is the 
product of two factors — the internal factor and the 
external factor — and this double origin will present 
itself again and again during our survey. We act ; 
and as all acts are movements, or arrests or sup- 
pressions of movement, in order to act we must be 
able to move ; that is, that we should have at 
command a store of motion susceptible of expenditure. 
And we act, not in vacuo, but in a world of circum- 
stance ; and, in order that we may so act, it is 
necessary to take account of circumstance, — it is 


necessary that we should respond to the impress 
of circumstance. Without a store of motion, there 
could be no movement, and therefore no action, and 
no conduct, since conduct is action : without response 
to the impress of circumstance, there could be no 
adaptation of action to circumstance, and therefore 
no conduct, since conduct is the pursuit of ends by- 
modifying circumstances. All action is due to the 
co-operation of these two factors, and is controlled, 
guided, varied, and determined, by the combination 
of the internal factor with the external factor. 

The initiation of action may be due to the 
internal factor, to the external factor, or to a 
combination of the two ; and the continuance or 
cessation of action is similarly determined. We may 
go on walking as long as it is pleasurable to do so, 
and cease when we are tired ; or we may go on until 
we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac, or fall into a pit, 
and can go no farther ; or we may go on until we 
arrive at our destination, and so are arrested by a 
combination of the internal with the external factor. 
When a bird starts singing, the initiation of the 
action is due to the internal factor ; when it flies 
from the sound of a gun, the initiation of the action 
is due to the external factor ; when it looks for food, 
the action is initiated by a combination of both 
factors. It may leave off singing because it is tired ; 
or because it is frightened away ; or because it sees 
a desirable worm within easy distance. 

Not only may the initiation, continuance, and 
cessation of action be determined by either the in- 
ternal or the external factor, or by a combination 


of the two, but the direction also, that action takes, 
may be determined in either of these ways ; and this 
leads us to the cardinal distinction between Instinctive 
and Reasoned action ; but before considering this 
distinction, account must be taken of quantity of 


According to the amount of motion that his 
nervous system contains in store, the action of a 
person will be abundant, vigorous, and long-sustained, 
or it will be scanty, languid, and brief Few 
differences, in the mode of action of difterent men, 
are more important than this, or have more effect 
on his success in attaining his ends. Almost all 
the men who have left their mark upon the world, 
and have attained great results in any department 
of life, have been copiously endowed with the power 
of maintaining vigorous action, for many hours a 
day, over long periods. In a few conspicuous cases 
— in such cases as those of Charles Darwin and 
Herbert Spencer — the power of long sustained 
exertion has been impaired by ill-health ; but the 
defect, in the number of hours of daily labour, has 
been compensated by the regularity with which the 
daily task has been done. Though work could be 
done for but a few hours every day, those hours were 
never omitted ; and the work was of a character that 
every hour devoted to it contributed to the same 
end. In a few cases — in such a case as the poet 
Gray — a man has made his mark upon the world, 


and stamped his remembrance on the minds of men, 
in spite of indolence and languor, by the exquisite 
skill with which he has wrought a single piece of 
work. But such cases are rare. Other things 
being equal, he will be most successful who is 
capable of the most sustained and vigorous action ; 
and these qualities of action depend on the amount 
of motion that he has at his disposal to expend, 
and that his nervous system, therefore, can contain 
in store. 

In respect to vigour of action, men differ in the 
same manner as carnivorous animals, as a whole, 
differ from those that are herbivorous. The former 
are capable of tremendous efforts, that are spasmodic 
and short-lived, breaking the continuity of long 
periods of repose ; the latter are capable of uniform 
and long-continued exertion of less intensity ; and so 
it is with men. Some, we find, interrupt a life that 
is on the whole lethargic, by bursts of strenuous but 
short-lived energy ; others plod with steady determina- 
tion. Mankind are apt to view the latter with the 
greatest approval, and to look somewhat askance 
upon the former ; and no doubt, for the majority of 
men, and in the greater number of occupations, the 
latter mode of action is the most effectual ; but the 
world would be poorer without its Edward IV. 's, its 
Chathams, and its Massenas. 

Great deficiency in intelligence, that is in 
elaborateness, skill, and originality in conduct, is 
often, though not always, accompanied by deficiency 
in vigour and sustention of action. Most idiots and 
imbeciles are lethargic, and wanting in quantity as 


well as in quality of action ; but the association is 
not invariable, and dull men may be very industrious. 
It is a foible of some brilliant men that high ability 
may stand instead of steady industry, but the 
assumption is not very often justified. 



The most important distinction between modes of 
action, and that on which several others hang, is the 
distinction between Instinctive action and Reasoned 
action. For this reason, and because it is not 
generally understood, and, even among those who 
have examined it critically, there is no consensus upon 
it, it is advisable to consider it with some care. 

Reason was considered by the ancients the 
distinctive possession of man, and all animals below 
the status of mankind were denied the possession 
of any share whatever of reason. The division, by 
Porphyry, of the genus animal, was into rationale 
and irrationale, the former including man alone, 
and the latter comprehending all the rest of the 
animal kingdom. An echo of this ancient dictum 
resounds, from time to time, in the columns of the 
Spectator, in which instances of reasoned acts, done 
by cats and dogs, are given, and are adduced as 
evidence that here and there, in isolated instances, 
some of the lower animals have evinced a modicum 
of reason ; but the thesis that will presently be main- 
tained here, that every animal, in every one of its 



acts, exercises reason to some extent, is one that 
would startle even the zoophilists of the Spectator ; 
and to their antagonists would partake of the nature 
of blasphemy. The curious thing about the discussion 
as to whether animals can reason, by which is usually 
meant whether or no a single animal here and there, 
of the higher grades, has attained the ability of im- 
porting a modicum of reason into his usually instinc- 
tive action, proceeded for generations without any 
attempt to define what was meant by instinctive 
action, or by reasoned action, or what is the difference 
between the two. Lately, an important symposium 
of opinion on the subject has been published, but as 
it would be too long to reproduce here, and as my 
own view does not agree with that of any of the 
contributors to this symposium, I propose to state 
my own view without reference to those of my 

That pigs do not fly, is a truth with which we are 
familiar from our earliest years ; and equally true is 
it that chickens do not swim, nor ducklings scratch ; 
that men walk on two legs, and horses on four. In 
other words, the way in which the inherent motion 
of the organism is expended, is determined largely by 
external conformation. But it depends not only on 
external conformation. It depends also on internal 
organisation. If ducklings do not scratch the ground 
as chickens do, it is not only because their feet are not 
adapted to scratching, but also, and mainly, because 
they are wanting in the nervous organisation that 
actuates the movement of scratching. If men walk 
upright upon two legs, while horses walk prone on 


four, it is not only because the whole external organ- 
isation of men and horses is adapted to their several 
modes of progression, but also because men possess 
the nervous arrangements necessary for preserving 
the balance in the upright position, and moving the 
legs and body harmoniously together for that end ; 
while horses possess different nervous arrangements, 
for moving the four limbs in alternation. 

What is true of the differences in conduct between 
one species of animal and another, is true also of the 
differences between one individual and another. If 
one man expends his accumulated motion in laborious 
bodily exercise, while another expends his in internal 
rearrangement, by working out some abstruse mathe- 
matical or chemical problem, it is because the nervous 
organisation of the one is adapted to expend motion 
in the one direction, and that of the other is adapted 
to expend it in the other. All that we speak of as 
* tastes,' ' capabilities,' and so forth, are embodied in 
the structural organisation of the nervous system ; 
and, according to these differences of nervous organi- 
sation, different modes of conduct will be manifested. 

Nevertheless, in this matter also, circumstances 
play their part. The external factor as well as the 
internal factor is potent. A man would rather play 
cricket than golf ; for the one he has a natural bent and 
aptitude, the other he cares little about, and plays 
much less skilfully ; but it requires the common 
consent of twenty-two people to play cricket, and 
just now that consent is not to be had ; and he can 
play golf by himself; so, rather than sit idle at home, 
he goes off to play golf In such a case, the external 


factor determines the direction in which motion is 
expended — the character of the action. No man can 
become an accomplished musician who has not a 
natural bent and aptitude for music,— a capacity of 
feeling certain emotions, and giving expression to 
them by musical sounds— and in so far, the action of 
musical performance is determined by the internal 
factor. But however highly developed his aptitude 
for music may be, the musician cannot play 
without his instrument ; and in so far the action is 
determined by the external factor. However highly 
a man may be endowed with natural dexterity, and 
the capability of nice manipulation, he cannot 
do accurate work without suitable tools. Whatever 
his skill in the breaking of unmanageable horses, he 
cannot exercise it in a land in which no horses are. 
However great an orator he may be, he can neither 
convince nor persuade those who do not understand 
the language he speaks. In every case, the external 
factor, as well as the internal, helps to determine 
the nature and character of the action. 

So far, while we have found that conduct is 
determined by the combination of the internal factor 
and the external factor — by natural aptitude working 
in circumstances, — we have not reached the problem 
of the difference between instinctive conduct and 
reasoned conduct. It was necessary, however, to 
insist on the combination of these factors before the 
problem could be investigated. 

The web-spinning of the spider, the nest-building 
of birds, and the comb-building of the bee, are usually 
considered among the most perfect types and 


examples of instinct. It is worth while to examine 
them, to seek the quality that is peculiar, and 
characteristic of instinctive action ; and I think it will 
be found in their fixed and invariable character. 

The web constructed by every individual of a 
species of geometrical spider, agrees very closely, in 
its main features, with the web of every other 
individual of that species. Each web consists of a 
few main supports, attached at their extremities to 
surrounding objects, and enclosing a polygonal area ; 
of spokes radiating at equal angles from the centre 
of this area, and attached at their peripheral 
extremities to its sides ; and of two sets of spirals 
attached to the spokes, an inner set, fine and closely 
approximated ; and an outer set, thicker and in a 
wider spiral. The striking feature of the web is its 
geometrical character. The spokes are set at equal 
angles ; the spirals are set at equal intervals. In the 
features enumerated, the webs of all such spiders are 
alike. They do not vary. We can predict, before 
the spider has spun an inch of line, that its web will, 
when finished, have these characters. As far as these 
characters are concerned, the web is completely 
determinate in structure. Its construction is deter- 
mined, as far as these features are concerned, by the 
organisation of the spider ; and the animal cannot 
construct a web of any other pattern. Such action 
is called instinctive. We give the name instinctive 
to action which is determinate ; which is executed 
uniformly by every individual of the species ; which 
is predictable. Instinctive action, therefore, is that 
which is determined entirely by the internal factor, 



— by the organisation of the animal, — not only as to 
its initiation, progress, and conclusion, but also as to 
its direction or character. 

Another mode of action that is, by universal 
consent, regarded as a charactistic example of in- 
stinctive action, is the comb-building of the hive-bee. 
The comb is built of hexagonal cells, with parallel 
sides, and with pyramidal bases composed of three 
rhombic plates. The cells are all of the same dimen- 
sions ; the walls of the same thickness ; the sheets of 
comb are flat, and hang vertically from the roof of 
the hive. Every cell in the comb is a perfect 
geometrical figure, and every cell is similar to every 
other cell, not only in that comb, but in the other 
combs in the hive ; and not only in the other combs 
in that hive, but in every comb in every hive of the 
same species of bee. The cells are made uniformly 
by every individual of the species ; their shape, and 
size, and material, and disposition, are all deter- 
minate. They are predictable. They are due to a 
certain mode of action on the part of the bee, that 
is predetermined by the organisation of the bee. The 
nervo-muscular apparatus of the bee is so constructed, 
and so conditioned, that, when it is actuated, or set 
in operation, it turns out work of this nature, and 
this pattern, with mechanical regularity ; and this 
is the character of instinctive action. 

A third mode of action that is typically instinctive 
in character, is the nest-building of birds. Every bird 
of the same species builds its nest in a position, of a 
form and mode of construction, of a size, and of 
materials, similar to the nest of every other individual 



of the same species. The rook always builds, at the 
top of a tall tree, a loosely constructed nest of live 
twigs. The tailor-bird always builds in the hollow 
made of leaves that it has sewn together. The 
kingfisher and the sand-martin always build in holes 
excavated in the ground. The wood-pigeon never 
builds on a cliff, nor the rock-pigeon in a tree. The 
magpie and the long-tailed tit build domed nests 
opening at the side ; the tern and the ostrich scoop 
holes in the ground. Each bird, in nidification, 
follows a course of conduct that is fixed, invariable, 
determinate, predictable ; the same for every in- 
dividual of the species. Like the spider in spinning 
its web, and the bee in building its comb, the bird 
does not need to learn from experience how the 
instinctive act is to be done. It is done by the 
operation of internal mechanism, which, when put 
in operation, can act in only one way ; and the 
product of the mechanism is as determinate as the 
product of an automatic lathe, or a loom. It is this 
fixed, invariable, unmodifiable character, that is the 
mark and the diff'erentia of instinctive action. 

But, although the webs of all spiders belonging to 
the same species are precisely alike in all their main 
features, save only in size, yet there are, in every web, 
features which are peculiar to it alone — features in 
which the web of every individual spider differs from 
the web of every other ; and in which even the second 
and third webs, made by the same spider, difter from 
the first, and from each other ; features which are 
unpredictable, and are determined, not by the 
internal organisation of the spider, working in a 


predetermined manner, but by the external circum- 
stances, to which the action of the spider is adapted. 
The objects, to which the main supports of the web 
are attached, differ in every case. Their distance 
apart is never the same. Their number varies 
widely. In consequence of these differences, the size 
and shape of the polygonal area that bounds the web, 
are never alike in any two webs — not even in two 
successive webs built by the same spider in the same 
place. The construction of the web up to this stage, 
and in these respects, is adapted to the individual 
circumstances of the place, and the occasion, in 
which it is made ; and the adaptation is often 
ingenious. The thickness of the main supports of 
the web is made proportional to their length. Their 
anchorage to the fixed point to which they are 
attached, may be single or multiple. When the wind is 
so high as to endanger the structure, a spider has been 
known to hang a pebble to the lower edge of its web, 
to afford a yielding support and tightener. Again, 
the operation by which the spirals are affixed to the 
spokes is fixed and invariable, and never undergoes 
alteration ; but the operation by which the main 
supports of the web are attached, is subject to much 
variation. The spider may float the web in the 
air, and allow the wind to carry it across the inter- 
vening space ; or she may run round with it, giving out 
thread as she goes, from one point of support to the 
other ; or she may drop from one point of support, 
and, suspended at the end of a thread, allow herself 
to be swung by the wind, until she reaches the other 
point of support. The method she adopts is 


determined by the circumstances in which she is. In 
still air she does not depend on the wind to carry 
her. The precise position of the web, the number of 
the prime supports, the precise shape of the poly- 
gonal area that they include, the objects to which 
they shall be attached, the mode of reaching these 
objects, the method of anchoring the supports thereto, 
all these are variable. They are not the same for 
any two webs. They are specially adapted to the 
specific circumstances in which the web is built. 
They are determined by the choice of the spider on 
the particular occasion : and choice is the distinguish- 
ing mark of reason. In these respects, therefore, the 
action of the spider, in spinning its web, is not 
instinctive. It has none of the marks of instinct. 
It is reasoned. Thus we find that, if instinctive 
action is that which is invariable, determinate, pre- 
dictable, unmodified by external circumstances, the 
same in every individual of the species, the product of 
rigid organisation acting under fixed conditions ; and if 
reasoned action is variable, indeterminate, unpredict- 
able, the product of choice in adaptation to circum- 
stances ; then, into an act so thoroughly and typically 
instinctive as the web-spinning of the spider, an 
element of reason enters. Part of this instinctive act 
is reasoned. 

Although the structure of the comb of the hive- 
bee is determinate in the respects enumerated, yet it 
is not completely determinate. In some respects it is 
variable, and is modified in adaptation to circum- 
stances. Sometimes, to fill up a corner, or to avoid 
a projection, the sheet of comb is not flat, but is 


curved ; and in that case, the cells are not parallel- 
sided, but frustrums of pyramids, those on the convex 
side having mouths larger than their bases, and 
those on the concave side having bases larger than 
their mouths. When a comb is in danger of dragging 
away from its supports, or if it has actually fallen, 
buttresses are built to sustain it, and in these 
buttresses, the shape of the cells, while generally 
conforming with the shape of the type, is yet 
modified, and subordinated to the object to be 
served. The cells of drone-comb are larger than the 
cells of ordinary comb, and where the two adjoin, 
the intermediate cells are modified in shape to suit 
the circumstance. A bee will sometimes pull down 
and rebuild a piece of work, it may be more than 
once, until the work is to her satisfaction ; and one 
bee will pull down the work of others, and reconstruct 
it in better form. In all these cases, the instinctive 
action is modified to suit the exigencies of particular 
circumstances ; and such modification is guided by 
choice of one out of several alternatives ; is 
determined, not by the unalterable action of the 
internal factor, but by the requirements of the 
external factor ; and is therefore not instinctive, but 

It is the same, mutatis mutandis, with the nest- 
building of birds. The rook always builds, of live 
twigs, a loosely constructed nest at the top of a tall 
tree. In these respects its action is fixed, deter- 
mined, predictable, unmodifiable, instinctive. But 
which particular tree, and which branch of the tree, 
shall bear the nest, — these are not predetermined. 


These are not the same for every individual of the 
species. There is an internal compulsion in the rook 
to build a nest, and to build it of live twigs, at the 
top of a tall tree ; but there is no internal compulsion 
in the rook to select one tree rather than another, or 
one branch rather than another. Were it so, the result 
would be disastrous. If every rook built on the same 
branch of the same tree, the branch and the tree 
would be broken down. Nor is there any internal 
compulsion in the rook, to select one twig rather than 
another for his purpose. He settles on any tree that 
has a likely branch, and proceeds to twist it off ; and 
in all the details of nidification — in placing the sticks, 
and interlacing them with one another — he is guided 
by what has been already done, and by the particular 
direction and conformation of the branch which is 
his foundation. In these matters his action is 
modifiable. It is subject to variation, to choice, to 
alteration in adaptation to external conditions. Here 
it is the external factor that determines the mode 
and direction of his action. 

It is the same with other birds. While some 
make their nests, like rooks, on tall trees, other species 
have other instincts. All the individuals of one 
species make their nests in dense parts of thick bushes ; 
all those of another in holes in the ground ; all those 
of another on inaccessible cliffs ; and so on. But 
as to the particular bush, and the particular part of 
the bush ; as to the particular cliff, and the particular 
part of the cliff, in which the nest shall be made, 
these are not predetermined. One bush is more 
suitable from its greater density ; another has a 


branch more suitably shaped ; which of the two shall 
be the locality of the nest, is a matter for the 
decision and deliberate choice of the nesting bird. It 
is not predetermined. It is uncertain. It varies. 
It is a matter of choice. So in the matter of 
materials. The rook builds its nest of live twigs, the 
thrush of fibrous roots and stems, the chaffinch of 
moss and lichen ; but what particular twig, or fibre, 
or bit of moss, shall be used, is not predetermined. 
It is a matter of selection — of choice, — and choice is 
reason. Some trees, limes for instance, are preferred 
by the rook, but he is not restricted to limes ; nor, 
where there are several limes, is he restricted to 
any one ; and the choice of suitable twigs on any one 
tree is almost limitless. Yet on each visit he chooses 
one. He does not always choose the same. He does 
not necessarily take the nearest, or the easiest to 
break. His action varies according to circumstances. 
It is determined by external conditions. That is to 
say, while the act of nest-building is determined, in 
its main features, by internal organisation, and is in 
this respect instinctive ; it is subject, in its details, to 
the operation of choice in adaptation to circumstances, 
and is, in this respect, reasoned. 

It would be easy to extend indefinitely this brief 
review of instinctive action, and to show that, how- 
ever rigidly invariable the main features of the 
instinctive action may be, there is always a margin 
that is modified by reason in adaptation to circum- 
stances. Enough has been said, I think, to show 
that no act is wholly instinctive. Into every 
instinctive act there is an intrusion of reasoned 


action. However paramount may be the action of 
the fixed organisation of the actor, it is never 
sufficiently complete, at any rate in the higher 
animals, to cover the whole field, and account for 
the whole of the action. However dominant the 
action of the fixed organisation may be, there is 
always a margin to which it does not extend, in 
which choice is free : in which action is no longer 
determinate, but is modifiable in adaptation to 
circumstances ; and such modifiability is the mark 
of reasoned action. 

I do not deny that in animals whose conduct is of 
primitive simplicity, such conduct may be wholly 
instinctive. The conduct of a fixed bivalve, for 
instance, is almost limited to the opening and closing 
of its shell ; and the latter operation takes place, no 
doubt, reflexly, in response to stimulus ; but it is 
not impossible that some choice is exercised by the 
animal in the time of opening. My position is not 
in the least invalidated, however, if there are actions 
wholly determined by the organisation of the actor, 
and unaOected by any element of choice or reason. 
All I contend for is that, in the higher animals at 
any rate, and in elaborate instincts, an element of 
reason is always present. In them there is no such 
thing as a wholly instinctive act. Generally, it 
would be correct to say that, while the end is 
dictated imperatively by instinct, the means by 
which the end is attained are, to a varying extent, 
sought by reason ; and this is as true of the action of 
mankind, as of that of the animals below mankind. 

The conduct of men is usually contrasted with 


the conduct of animals, and looked on as wholly 
reasoned ; while that of animals is regarded as 
wholly instinctive. But on examination, we find 
that, as the conduct of animals is not wholly in- 
stinctive, but always, at least in its higher mani- 
festations, contains some element of reason ; so tlie 
conduct of man is not wholly reasoned, but contains 
always some element of instinct. In the lower 
animals, the internal factor greatly predominates, 
and little margin is left for the choice of means to 
attain the end that instinct dictates; in man, the 
reasoned factor encroaches more and more in dis- 
covering means to attain his ends ; but the ends, the 
ultimate ends, are always instinctively determined. 
In contemplating the conduct of man, we regard 
mainly the means by which he achieves his ends, 
and when we take account of purposes, we regard 
mainly the proximate and intermediate purposes, 
which, as well as the immediate means, may be 
dictated by reason ; and thus we are apt to regard 
the whole conduct of man as reasoned, because we 
confine our contemplation to that part which is 
reasoned, and neglect those fundamental and under- 
lying purposes which are not reasoned, but instinctive. 
In truth, and in close examination, it is found that 
instinct is no more excluded from the conduct of 
man by the prevalence of reason, than reason is 
excluded from the conduct of animals by the 
dominance of instinct. The difference is one, not of 
kind, but of degree. In lower animals, instinct 
dictates the end, and not only the end, but to a 
considerable extent the means by which the end is 


achieved ; and leaves but a margin, larger or smaller, 
to the gaidance of reason. In man, instinct dictates 
the main ends only, and the reasoned margin is so 
greatly increased that it seems to occupy the whole 
area ; but it does not. The central area is always 
occupied by instinct. The black border of a sheet 
of white paper may be a mere line round the edge ; 
or it may be a margin so broad that the main area 
of the paper is black, and only a small patch of 
white is left in the middle ; but the two very 
different sheets present merely extreme variations of 
the same arrangement. 

The business man, examining the plans of his new 
premises, adapting them to his new machinery, his 
increased staff, the order in which the processes of 
manufacture are to be conducted, the reception of 
raw material, the packing and delivery of the finished 
product, and many other considerations, is performing 
a seri-es of highly reasoned acts. But these highly 
reasoned acts are but means for the attainment of 
an end — the end of acquiring income to supply his 
wants. And action for the supply of his wants — to 
keep him in house, warmth, clothing, food, comforts, 
and even luxuries — is not reasoned action. It is 
instinctive. It is certain and predictable that every 
normal man will endeavour some action to suj)ply 
himself with necessaries, — to support himself and his 
family. He is impelled by instinct to act in some 
way for the attainment of this end ; but here the 
impulse of instinct terminates. Instead of finding, 
as in the case of the bee, an elaborate course of action 
for the supply of food and shelter, dictated by a 


rigid instinct, which, willy nilly, he must follow ; 
instinct dictates merely the end that must be 
attained, and leaves it entirely to reason to find the 
means of attaining it. 

The lover who schemes and plots to find oppor- 
tunity of meeting his beloved ; who presses into his 
service the telegraph, the postal service, the railway, 
visits here and letters there, the exigencies of his 
business, and the demands of his employer ; is 
conducting a series of operations of highly reasoned 
character. All these acts are reasoned acts, the 
subjects of deliberation and choice, not predetermined, 
not predictable, subject to modification from hour to 
hour, and from moment to moment, under the 
influence of obstructing circumstances. But the 
main action, to which these are all subsidiary, the 
end for which they are the means, the primary course 
of conduct of which they are the details, that is to 
say, the seeking the association with a person of 
the opposite sex for the purpose of courtship, — that 
is not a reasoned act. That is a matter of instinct. 
It is certain. It is inevitable. It is determinate. 
Instinct demands that some such object of association 
shall be sought. Instinct determines, in the main, 
the choice of the particular individual ; but when 
instinct has done this much, reason is left to fill in 
all the details, to find or make opportunities for 
that association which instinct imperatively demands. 
The internal factor supplies the main direction of 
activity, the external factor is left to do the rest. 

The man of science who conducts some prolonged 
investigation for the solution of a diflScult problem, 


say in physics, or biology, immerses himself in 
operations of the most highly reasoned character ; 
but these highly reasoned operations are means, 
merely, to the attainment of some end that is 
dictated by an imperious instinct. Is he working 
for ultimate pecuniary reward ? The dictation of 
instinct is manifest. Does he work for fame ? The 
desire for fame is a high development of that desire 
for the esteem of his fellows, which is the common 
instinctive possession of all men. Does he work for 
the pure love of investigation, and to find out the 
secrets of nature ? Then he is actuated by the same 
instinct of Curiosity that prompts the girl to dis- 
articulate her doll ; the boy to rip up the bellows, 
and pull his watch to pieces ; that draws the deer 
to the decoy, the magpie to the jewel, the salmon to 
the torch, the moth to the lamp. 

In these instances, which might be multiplied 
indefinitely, the instinctive factor in conduct, while 
it really dominates the whole, and determines the 
ultimate end that shall be pursued, yet leaves so 
completely to the guidance of reason the means by 
which the end is to be attained, that the reasoned action 
absorbs the whole of the attention, and the conduct 
of mankind is commonly supposed to be governed by 
reason alone. So far does the ultimate instinctive 
end recede into the background, and so complicated 
and prolonged becomes the reasoned action by which 
that end is sought, that in many cases, the ultimate 
end of conduct disappears altogether from the view 
of the actor, who pursues some intermediate end, 
not realising that this intermediate end is but a 


stage towards the attainment of the ultimate aim, to 
which his instinct impels him. When the business 
man is making plans, raising capital, and organising 
his arrangements to extend his business, he looks 
only to the improvement of the business itself, and 
the prospective profit that it will bring him. He is 
not directly concerned, he is scarcely conscious of 
the fact, that his ultimate motive in all this work 
is to secure himself against want, in the coming 
time when he will no longer be able to work ; to 
educate and clothe his children, and to see them 
established in the world, and able to provide for 
themselves. When the lover is arranging to meet 
his mistress, he thinks only of the pleasure that the 
meeting will afford him, and would be outraged to 
be told that his ultimate motive is that she may 
become the mother of his children. And when the 
man of science is poring over his problem, the only 
motive that is present to his mind is the interest of 
the pursuit, the overcoming of difficulties and the 
avoidance of fallacies. He does not stop to consider 
the motive at the back of what he is doing. 



A. The Fossilisation of Reason into Instinct 

Dogs that have been under domestication for in- 
numerable generations, and that, during innumerable 
generations, have been well and regularly fed, still 
retain the instinctive habit of burying bones, the 
remnants of a generous meal, to serve them on a 
future occasion, which, in their domesticated life, 
never arises. So obsolete has become the need, that 
the habit of exhuming the buried bone is almost 
lost ; but still the practice of burying it is continued. 
Originally undertaken to serve a further end — to 
provide a store of nourishment against future want 
— the practice is now pursued for its own sake, 
though it no longer serves any end. The burying of 
bones is become itself an end. Whenever intelligence 
is employed to attain an end, the end is attained, 
not immediately, but by successive steps. The dog, 
in providing against future want, employs but one 
intermediate operation, — that of burying the bone. 
But man, in providing against future want, employs 
many intermediate operations. He works at this 
and at that ; he makes friends to secure influence ; 


CHAP, in 


he intrigues ; he speculates ; he travels ; he conducts 
his correspondence ; he joins the Freemasons ; he 
does a thousand things that have no direct result 
in providing for his future, but which he hopes 
will serve him indirectly, — doubly, trebly, and re- 
motely indirectly. In short, he proceeds towards an 
ultimate instinctive end by successive steps, passing 
from one intermediate end ,,to another, often without 
recognising that he is proceeding to an ultimate end, 
but having the proximate end only in view. 

Thus it happens, in very many cases, that the 
proximate or intermediate end, undertaken originally 
only as a means towards some ultimate end, becomes 
an end in itself. The ultimate end is dropped out 
of sight, and forgotten ; and the intermediate or 
proximate end becomes the ultimate goal. Such 
anticipation of motive, as we may call it, is the 
burying of bones by the domesticated dog. Once 
undertaken as a means to a further end, it is now 
become an ultimate end, beyond which the dog does 
not go. Many instances of such anticipation of motive 
occur in the conduct of mankind, and the consequent 
modification of conduct will often be referred to in 
subsequent pages. Some of these instances, of what 
may be termed the fossilisation of reason into instinct, 
we may observe in actual course of making : others 
have long become fixed and organised as secondary 



A sentinel was found, by a high military authority, 
pacing up and down before a government building 
in Berlin. As sentries are not usually posted before 
such buildings, the high military authority made 


inquiry as to the reason of the exception. No 
reason could be given at first ; but on research being 
made, it was found that, years before, the railings 
had been painted, and a sentry had been posted to 
warn passers-by not to brush against the wet paint. 
The paint had long been dry ; the railings were now 
in condition to need painting again ; but still the 
sentinel was posted daily, and tramped up and down 
before the building, neither knowing nor caring what 
he was there for. The ultimate end for which he 
was posted there, had long dropped out of sight, 
and had ceased to exist ; buti the posting of a sentry 
on that spot was become an end in itself, to be attained 
without reference to any ulterior end. We see the 
same thing in the carrying out of many laws. A 
law is instituted to prevent a certain abuse. The 
abuse ceases, but still the provisions of the law are 
pedantically administered. They are become ends 
to be followed for their own sake, regardless of the 
fact that the circumstances to which they were 
adapted have ceased to exist, or that the administra- 
tion of the law may actually produce the very evils 
it was intended to prevent. The old poor-law, 
passed to relieve destitution, was continued in 
operation for many long years after it produced 
much more destitution than it relieved. 

Before the days of maps and plans, the boundaries 
of parishes were kept in mind by an annual per- 
ambulation by the parish authorities and the children, 
into whom it was important that the knowledge 
should be instilled ; and certain impressive ceremonies, 
such as beating the children, or bumping their elders. 


were practised at importaDt spots, in order to impress 
the sufferers with a more lasting remembrance of the 
boundary. The construction of accurate maps and 
plans has long provided better, and more lasting, 
and more available evidence of the course of the 
boundaries ; but in the meantime the practice of 
' beating the bounds ' has become an end to be 
followed for its own sake, regardless of the further 
end for which it was instituted. 

Among the subsidiary instincts is that of accumu- 
lation. Originated in the practice of accumulating, 
in times of plenty, a store of food that should serve 
for sustenance in times of scarcity, its obvious 
advantages soon caused the transfer of the desire 
and the practice to other things than food ; until, in 
the course of ages, it culminated in the practice of 
accumulating money, the symbol and potentiality of 
acquiring most things that are regarded as desirable. 
Having started as a means to the further end of 
security against future want, it is now, by the 
process of anticipation of motive, become an end in 
itself; and we have the familiar spectacle of men 
who have already accumulated money in excess of any 
possible need, still going on with the accumulation 
for the mere sake of accumulating. From food and 
money, the practice has overflowed, by an easy 
process of transference, to other things, some useful, 
many useless, and we now see people accumulating 
book-plates, postage stamps, and all kinds of queer 
things, merely to satisfy the secondary instinct of 
accumulation. In the insane, we see a grotesque 
manifestation of the same instinct in the collection 


34 CONDUCT book i 

of matchboxes, pebbles, bits of string, rags, paper, 
and so forth. 

In such a case as the foregoing, the manifestation 
of the subsidiary instinct, the transformation of what 
was once a means into an end, is clear and obvious ; 
but there are many other examples of the same 
process going on around us, whose nature we do not, 
perhaps, recognise : and many customs, otherwise 
inexplicable, are due to this anticipation of motive. 

In an age when the only means of ascertaining 
the hour with any approach to accuracy, was by 
consulting the sun-dial on the parish church, it was 
manifestly desirable that some signal, audible to 
parishioners scattered over a wide area, should be 
given, to indicate the time at which the public 
services of the church would begin. For this purpose, 
a bell was hung in a lofty tower, from which its 
reverberations would travel to a greater distance. 
This custom of ringing the church bell, originated as 
a means to the further end of signifying to the 
parishioners the hour of service, is followed at the 
present day, when every labourer possesses a clock, 
and every middle-class householder half a dozen ; and 
when meetings by the score are held in every parish 
at a pre-arranged hour, which are punctually attended 
by people who receive no tintinnabular summons. 
The ringing of the bell has ceased to be a means to 
a further end, and is become, by anticipation of 
motive, an end to l)e followed for its own sake. The 
ringing of the bell is at length regarded almost as a 
portion of the service, the omission of which would 
be disrespectful to the Almighty. 


A whimsical instance of the same tendency is seen 
in the tenacity with which the teaching of Latin is 
adhered to in our public schools. At one time the 
common and only medium of communication among 
educated men of all nations ; the language in which 
all books were written, all legal documents engrossed, 
all diplomatic correspondence conducted, all Uni- 
versity lectures delivered ; its acquisition was, of 
necessity, the first step in a liberal education. It 
was taught, not in the least as an end in itself, but 
as a means to further and more distant ends. With 
the lapse of time, other and more direct means of 
attaining these ends came into use, and the value of 
Latin as a means in education disappeared. But, in 
the meantime, the teaching of Latin, as a first step 
in education, had become habitual. From an inter- 
mediate, it had become an ultimate end. That it 
had had a purpose was forgotten, and it was, and 
still is, pursued, as if it were in itself an end worthy 
of attainment ; and, as this strange position demands 
justification, all kinds of reasons are alleged by its 
advocates for its retention in the curriculum, reasons 
which had nothing to do with its establishment, 
which are after-thoughts, and are enlisted to account 
otherwise for what is really an extension of instinct 
into the domain of reason. 

For it will have been observed that what is here 
called the anticipation of motive, or the erection into 
an ultimate end, of what was at first but a proximate 
end, and a means to some further end, is a change 
from a more reasoning to a more instinctive course 
of conduct. It is an extension of the direction of 

36 CONDUCT book i 

conduct by the internal factor, and a limitation of 
/ its direction by the external factor. The charac- 
teristic of reasoned action is its indeterminate, 
varying nature, its modifi ability in adaptation to 
circumstances; while the characteristic of instinc- 
V tive action is its unyielding rigidity, its predict- 
able certainty. It is clear that an act, that is 
performed in adaptation to circumstances that no 
longer exist, has ceased to be a reasoned act. Reason 
would modify the action into adaptation with the 
altered circumstances. The rigid invariability, which 
ensures the continuance of an action after the 
circumstances that it was framed to meet have 
ceased to exist, is instinctive ; and remains instinctive, 
whether the act is that of burying bones in anticipa- 
tion of a need that will never arise ; or that of ringing 
a bell whose summons is neither needed nor regarded ; 
or that of teaching a language whose use is ended 
and well-nigh forgotten. 

B. The Liquidation of Instinct into Reason 

So far, we have ascertained that conduct is 
a mixture, in variable proportions, of instinctive 
action with reasoned action ; that every course of 
conduct is demanded by instinct and moulded by 
reason ; that instinct dictates imperiously the ends, 
which reason seeks to compass ; and that there is a 
strong tendency for action, that was in the first place 
reasoned, to lose its reasoned character, and fossilise 
into instinct. It is manifest that if this tendency 
were not counterbalanced by an opposing tendency, 


the action, both of animals and of men, would 
become increasingly instinctive, and their conduct 
would at length crystallise into instinctive action, 
with a minimum of modifiability by reason. But 
this is not the case. The conduct of many animals, 
and of most communities of mankind, is in the 
opposite direction, and tends, as a whole, and with 
many an alternation and reflux, to become increasingly 
reasoned, and decreasingly instinctive, in its methods. 
There must, therefore, be some tendency opposed to, 
and somewhat stronger than that we have considered 
— a tendency to the breaking down of the fixed, 
determinate, invariable quality of action, that is 
characteristic of instinct ; a tendency to modify, in 
accordance with circumstances, the rigidity of in- 
stinctive action ; a tendency to increase the external 
factor at the expense of the internal factor, in the 
determination of the mode of action. 

Such a tendency is not far to seek. We have seen 
that in every action, however completely and rigidly 
instinctive it may appear to be, there is yet some 
margin that is modifiable by reason under the com- 
pulsion of altered circumstances. No two spiders' 
webs are in exactly the same place ; and therefore 
some intelligent choice of points of support must 
be made by every spider. No two nests can be in 
exactly the same place ; and therefore some in- 
telligent choice of locality must be made by every 
bird. Not only in the choice of locality for every 
nest, and every web, does this infusion of reason 
take place, but every act of every animal must occur 
under circumstances slightly different from other acts 

-iL 4>" i^J C > •JLrs., 

38 CONDUCT book i 

of the same animal, and must be modified to some 
degree, however slight, in accordance with the 
variation in the circumstances in which it is done. 
The flies caught in a spider's web, are of different 
sizes and different kinds ; they are entangled in 
different parts of the web, and by different parts of 
their bodies and limbs ; and they need to be dealt 
with in different ways. They are dealt with in 
different ways. When a spider catches a Tartar, in 
the shape of a wasp too big for her, she makes haste 
to cut the web, and allow the wasp to escape. No 
animal ever twice captures prey, or discovers food, 
of precisely the same character under precisely the 
same conditions. Every animal must deal with 
continually varying circumstances, though the varia- 
tions are sometimes greater, and sometimes less. 
Often the variation may be extremely small, so that 
the modification of action, that the variation renders 
necessary, is almost neglectable ; but some modification 
there must be, except in the simplest actions of the 
simplest animals, leading the simplest lives in the 
most uniform circumstances. The more closely the 
present circumstances reproduce those which are 
customary, and to which action is become adjusted, 
the less need for the importation of novel action. 
Customary action, which may or may not be in- 
stinctive, but which is at any rate customary, will 
be successful ; and if the customary action is also 
instinctive, the action will be repeated with a 
minimum of reasoned modification. When the 
circumstances are novel, the adjustment of action to 
them must fail, unless the action undergoes reasoned 


modification in adaptation to them ; and whether it 
will be so modified, depends on two factors — the 
degree of novelty of the circumstances, and the 
degree of adaptability, that is of reason, of the actor. 
When circumstances are difterent from those that are 
customary, adaptation must fail unless intelligence is 
correspondingly developed. Widely diff"erent circum- 
stances need a high degree of intelligence ; slightly 
different circumstances may be met with but little 
aid from reason. But whether the difference in 
circumstances is great or small, adaptation to them 
will fail, unless reason is correspondingly developed. 
If a cat, for instance, is let loose upon an island that 
contains no birds or small mammals, the cat will 
starve, unless it adapts itself to these new circum- 
stances by learning to catch fish, or to live on insects, 
or molluscs, or other food. Since every animal must, 
of necessity, be constantly importing into its action 
some minimum of intelligence, to deal with those 
slight modifications of circumstances that arise from 
diff*erences of locality, season, weather, and so forth ; 
it will have little difficulty in adapting its action — 
it will already be in possession of enough reason to 
adapt its action — to those modifications of circum- 
stances that differ but little from the customary. 
Owing to the constitution of the nervous system, 
and of mind, each such exertion of intelligence will 
increase the general ability of the animal to deal with 
other novelties in circumstances, providing only that 
the novelty is not too great. Hence, the condition 
for an increase of intelligence, is a variation in 
circumstances, greater, but not much greater, than 


customary variation ; or, more accurately, a variation 
proportional to the degree of intelligence existing. 

An animal of low intelligence, that is to say, 
incapable of making wide departures from instinctive 
action to deal with novel circumstances, is easily 
caught by a simple trap ; and such animals continue 
to be caught in traps of the same kind, in spite of 
any amount of experience in witnessing the capture 
of their relatives. However simple a mole trap, 
moles never learn to avoid it. Relatively to their 
adaptability, the difference of the circumstances from 
those to which they instinctively adjust themselves, 
is too great to permit them to bridge the interval by 
a modification of action. But animals that are ac- 
customed to originate new adaptations to circum- 
stances, soon learn to avoid simple traps ; and every 
increase in the novelty of the trap is met by a new 
adaptation of action to avoid it. Any new trap will 
catch a rat or two, but the rats soon learn to adapt 
themselves to the new circumstances ; and, to catch 
many rats, the traps must be changed ; or a trap 
must be devised so difi'erent from what is customary 
to rats, that the interval cannot be bridged by their 

The circumstances of all animals vary more or 
less ; and consonantly, their action, in dealing with 
circumstances, is more or less reasoned or intelligent. 
The liquidation of instinctive action into intelligent 
action, which we term the increase in the intelligence 
of the animal, depends on the gradual increase in 
novelty in their circumstances. If the amount of 
variation in circumstance remains uniform, the un- 


changing variability is inimical to increase of intel- 
ligence. If the amount of variation in circumstances, 
to which they must adapt themselves, diminishes, the 
grade of intelligence will be apt to deteriorate ; as we 
see in domestic cattle and sheep. The circumstances 
of cattle and sheep in domestication, present much 
wider variations than the circumstances of the same 
animals in a state of nature. They are distributed, 
by the agency of man, over every variety of climate ; 
they are fed with the food of the most diverse nature ; 
they are housed and treated in many different ways ; 
but to these different conditions they do not need to 
make adaptations. Everything is done for them. 
Their circumstances, diverse as they are, are arti- 
ficially adapted to them ; and they are but passive 
in the matter — much more passive than in a state of 
nature ; — and consequently, their intelligence, in spite 
of varied circumstances, does not increase, but on the 
contrary, diminishes. 

If the variation of the circumstances is very great, 
and sudden, or rapid, out of proportion to the ability 
of the animal to respond by new adaptation, no 
adaptation will be made ; and, if the circumstances 
thus changing are vital, the animal must perish ; as 
happens when a trap is beyond its comprehension. 
Such extreme variations seem, in certain cases, to 
paralyse the energies of the animal completely ; and 
this paralysis may, in some cases, be its salvation, 
as in those cases in which attack by a foe of over- 
whelming strength is followed by a simulated death, 
which may be preservative. It seems probable that 
by such paralysis of the energies may be explained 


the dwindling and extinction of certain savage races, 
when brought into contact with the infinite com- 
plexity of modern civilisation. Short of this de- 
structive effect, however, it seems that the wider the 
variation that is introduced into circumstances, the 
more favourable are the conditions to increase of 

As every novelty, if it be not too great, introduced 
into the circumstances of human life, paves the way 
for further novelties ; so every new adjustment made 
to circumstances, facilitates the making of still more 
novel adjustments. The new circumstances demand 
and elicit new adjustments to meet them ; and the 
formation of the new adjustments increases the flexi- 
bility of adaptation, and renders easier the formation 
of adjustments still more novel. Since there is no 
human life into which some novel circumstances do 
not from time to time enter, it is clear that the 
conditions of an increase of intelligence are present 
in the lives of all ; and, as long as the nervous system 
retains plasticity, the intelligence of each individual 
will tend to advance. 

Thus, two opposing tendencies exist in action ; 
and the actual instinctiveness or intelligence of the 
conduct of any person, or of any community of 
persons, is the resultant. By anticipation of motive, 
and the pursuit of means as ends, conduct tends 
perpetually to become more fixed, unvarying and 
instinctive ; by response to novelty in circumstances, 
it tends perpetually to become more flexible, more 
adaptable to special and new surroundings. In some 
persons the one mode, and in others the other mode, 


preponderates. In the same person, conduct will be, 
in one department or particular, fossilising into 
instinct ; in another department or particular, it will 
exhibit increase of intelligence. Like attraction and 
radiation in the world of atoms and ions ; like gravita- 
tion and centrifugal motion in the solar system ; like 
Ormuzd and Ahriman in Eastern legend, the two 
opposing forces are omnipresent in human conduct. 

The distinctive character of instinctive conduct 
is its fixity and determinateness ; of reasoned conduct 
its flexibility in adaptation to circumstances ; but 
these, though the most salient and fundamental, are 
by no means the only differences between the two 
modes of action. Other differences of great im- 
portance are implied and involved in those that have 
been considered, and these other differences must now 
be explained. 



The more purely instinctive an act remains, the 
more immediately and directly does it serve its 
purpose ; and the introduction or extension of the 
reasoned element in the action, necessarily postpones 
the attainment of the end. When the spider is seek- 
ing an appropriate position for its web, and determin- 
ing on the best points of support ; when the bird 
is seeking an appropriate position for its nest, and 
weighing the comparative advantages of concealment, 
security, and ease of construction ; the building of 
the structure is, in each case, suspended, postponed, 
and delayed, by as much time as is consumed in the 
search and the choice. The end in view, however, — 
the construction of a secure web in a position adapted 
to the capture of flies ; the construction of a secure 
nest in a place concealed from enemies, or inaccessible 
to them, — is so much more successfully attained, as 
to compensate for the delay in its attainment. When 
a hive of bees sets about to modify the disposition 
of its comb, by making passages here, and building 
buttresses there, the time thus occupied is taken from 



that which is devoted to the collection and storage 
of food, that the young may be reared, and the colony 
maintained through the winter ; but, while the attain- 
ment of the end in view — the intermediate end of 
storing food — is thus suspended, postponed, and 
delayed, the ultimate ends are more completely 
attained by the easier access to stores, and by the 
security of the comb from fracture and waste of its 
contents. When a colony of beavers excavates a canal 
for the transport of the logs, on the bark of which 
they feed, the collection of the logs is suspended, 
postponed, and delayed ; but the end in view, — the 
collection of the logs, is greatly facilitated. 

This power of suspending and postponing the 
immediate and direct pursuit of an end — this post- 
ponement of motive, as we may call it — becomes, in 
the higher manifestations of conduct, one of its most 
distinctive characters. It is the mark of reasoned 
action to forego the immediate gratification of a 
desire, for the sake of obtaining a greater future 
advantage. This ability to suspend and postpone the 
direct pursuit of instinctive ends, and to interpose 
action which delays this gratification, while it secures 
for the actor greater advantages, lies at the root of 
all progress, all civilisation, and all morality. 

It has been said that the man who first contented \ 
himself with abusing his adversary, instead of assault- / 
ing him, took the first step in civilisation ; and the I 
saying exhibits appreciation of the principle under 
discussion. If a man gives up years of his life to 
the acquirement of some difficult trade or profession, 
it is because the deferred reward that he will thus 


obtain, will be so much greater than that of an 
occupation that is immediately remunerative. If he 
invests his gains, he foregoes the instant pleasure of 
spending, for the future gratification of a fixed in- 
come. If he insures his life, he foregoes the same 
pleasure for the advantage of his family, as well as 
for his own contentment. The substitution of court- 
ship for rapine ; the postponement of marriage for 
reasons of prudence ; the continual advance in the 
average age of marriage ; alike bear witness to the 
same principle. 

The first result of the importation of reason into 
instinctive action is, then, this suspension of the 
immediate or direct pursuit of the end. It imports 
a power of suspending, checking, controlling, restrain- 
ing, or inhibiting instinctive action. This power of 
inhibition is inseparable from the exercise of reason. 
It is an integral part of reasoned action ; and the 
more of reasoning employed, the more and more of 
inhibition is involved in the action. 

Eeason means, first of all, choice. It implies a 
selection between alternatives ; and however rapidly 
the choice may be made, there is always some 
interval of time occupied in making the selection. 
The instinctive impulsion to take action directly 
conducing to the end in view, is overcome by the 
power of voluntary suspension, until the course that 
seems most appropriate to secure the end, is decided 
upon. For the time being, action is arrested ; and 
this arrest or suspension of action, is one of the most 
striking characters of reason. This power of sus- 
pending, or arresting, or inhibiting action, once 


initiated by the necessity of taking time to allow 
of the operation of choice, becomes, bit by bit, 
detachable from the operation of choice ; so that, 
at length, the power is acquired of arresting or sus- 
pending action, irrespective of immediate choice. 
The action is arrested ; and not merely is the attain- 
ment of the end thereby postponed, but the choice 
itself may be postponed, and the end itself may 
be postponed indefinitely, or altogether abandoned. 
Thus arises the power of self-restraint or self-control, 
as it is called ; a power which, first exercised in the 
most pronounced forms of instinctive action, gradually 
attains a larger and larger sway, until at length it 
prevails even over those trifling movements of facial 
expression, which are the inseparable accompaniments 
of emotion, and are the most difficult acts of all to 

In a previous section it has been shown how 
motives become anticipated, and that which was 
once a means to a further end comes to be pursued 
as an end in itself. This is true in greater or less 
degree of all means ; and is true of the mode of 
action that we are now considering. Self-restraint 
and self-control are cultivated as ends in themselves ; 
the arrest and suspension of the pursuit of ends is 
exaggerated into the abandonment of these ends ; 
and thus arises the practice of asceticism, in all its 
degrees and in all its forms. Asceticism is primarily 
the renunciation of pleasure ; that is to say, the 
renunciation of instinctive gratifications. It is the 
inhibition or arrest of the action by which pleasure 
is pursued ; and becomes possible only by the power 


of self-restraint, which enters into action as reason 
is applied to the modification of instinct. Self-denial 
and self-restraint, as ends in themselves, are no more 
desirable than burying bones, or ringing church bells, 
or learning Latin. They are of value only for the 
ends that can be achieved by means of them, and as 
they facilitate the attainment of ends. But, since 
they are the common condition of the better and 
more complete attainment of all ends, of every 
description, their acquirement and cultivation, apart 
from their application to any particular end, are of 
great value and importance ; and the practice of 
self-denial and self-restraint, in and for themselves, 
and apart from their application to any particular 
end, is the practice of asceticism. Any quality that 
is cultivated for itself alone, is liable to be cultivated 
to excess. As soon as it becomes an end to be pur- 
sued for its own sake, its utility as a means to further 
ends is ipso facto forgotten and lost sight of, and it 
may then be pui'sued to an extent that actually 
militates against the attainment of these further ends. 
Self-denial and self-control are valuable only as they 
enable us to attain, more completely than we could 
without them, the gratification of instinctive ends. 
But, in the cultivation of self-denial and self-control, 
this value is altogether ignored, and they are culti- 
vated, often, to the extent of delaying or rendering 
impossible, the very ends that their purpose is to 
serve. Nay, they are cultivated to the point of 
renouncing and repudiating these very ends them- 
selves. Mere rapine, by the cultivation of self- 
control, becomes mitigated into courtship ; the 


further cultivation, in excess, of self-control, secures 
the abolition of courtship, and of the end that 
courtship is intended to serve ; and results in celibacy. 
The gluttonous orgy of the savage becomes, by the 
cultivation of self-control, the decorous and orderly 
meal of the cultivated man ; but the cultivation, for 
its own sake, of self-denial, leads to fasting, which 
may become as great a danger to health as gluttony. 
The instant indulgence in riotous expenditure, that 
we call prodigality, is restrained by the cultivation 
of self-denial, and replaced by thrift. By the further 
pursuit of self-denial for its own sake, and without 
regard to the end to be attained by its means, thrift 
is exaggerated into miserliness. 

Self-control is the voluntary renunciation of im- 
mediate gratification, for the sake of greater sub- 
sequent gratification. Self-denial is the voluntary 
renunciation of gratification for its own sake, as an 
end, and without regard to any future gratification 
to be gained thereby. From the voluntary renuncia- 
tion of pleasure to the voluntary enduring of pain, is 
but a short step ; it is, in fact, a matter merely of 
degree, or even of nomenclature ; and the voluntary 
enduring of pain, or the self-infliction of pain, is 
asceticism. At one end of the long chain is the 
momentary suspension of the pursuit of gratification, 
in order that choice may be made of the most eff'ectual 
mode of attaining it ; in the middle is the dour 
indifference to sensual pleasure of the Puritan ; at 
the extreme end are the self-tortures and self- 
mutilations of the Eastern devotee, w^ho suspends 
himself by a hook passed through the muscles of 




his back, gazes open-eyed at the sun from the rising 
up of the same until the going down thereof, or 
takes his repose in a barrel set with spikes. 


Action that seeks instant and direct attainment 
of an end, is impulsive action, and partakes of the 
nature of instinct, with little or no modification by 
reason. Action that is delayed, in order that the 
most advantageous method of attaining the end may 
be found, or in order that the proximate end itself 
may be weighed, and adjudged to be expedient or 
inexpedient, is deliberate action. By common con- 
sent, impulsive action is regarded as in some respect 
inferior to deliberate action. It is lower in grade. 
It is marked by inferiority. The impulsive act need 
not, of necessity, be less moral than the deliberate 
act. The impulse may be to do a generous or a 
charitable act. But it is, by its very impulsiveness, 
less of a reasoned act. It is done without a weighing 
of advantage and disadvantage. It is more or less 
predetermined in character. When a man is struck 
by another, his natural impulse is to hit back. That 
is the instinctive retaliation upon the assault. The 
intervention of reason would lead to consideration of 
whether the blow was malicious or playful ; whether 
it was intended for the person assaulted or for some 
one else ; of the size and strength of the assailant ; 
of whether he is backed and reinforced by others — in 
short, of the odds — and various other considerations. 
The passage of these thoughts through the mind 


takes time, aud the estimation of them is called 
deliberation. Hence a deliberate act is one done 
after the lapse of time, as distinguished from 
an impulsive act, which is performed instantly. 
This is not, however, the true differentia between 
impulse and deliberation. An act determined on 
to-day, and done to-morrow or next week, may still 
be impulsive ; an act done on the spur of the moment 
may still be deliberate. The deferred act is impulsive 
if it is determined on without deliberation ; without 
weighing of the advantages and disadvantages ; 
without contemplation of its remoter results ; and, 
if so determined on, it remains impulsive, however 
great the lapse of time between the determination 
and the execution. On the other hand, deliberation 
may be extremely rapid. One of the most striking 
differences in the characters of different persons, is 
the speed with which their deliberations are con- 
ducted, and with which they are able to decide on 
the expediency or inexpediency of a contemplated 
act. Some are by nature persons of rapid decision, 
others are by nature slow to decide ; but whether 
performed rapidly or slowly, deliberation, if it pre- 
cedes the execution of an act, deprives the act of the 
character of impulsiveness ; and, if deliberation 
do not precede the act, then it is impulsive, no 
matter what length of time has elapsed between the 
determination and the execution. 

Excuse is sometimes made for criminal and other 
wrongful acts, on the ground that they are the result 
of ' irresistible impulse.' When the word ' impulse' 
is thus used, it seems to carry a meaning different 


from that defined above, and more consonant with 
' involuntary,' as considered below. When an act is 
spoken of as impulsive, all that is carried by the 
word impulsive, and all that, in my opinion, ought 
to be carried by it, is that the act was not preceded 
by deliberation. Whether the urgency of the craving 
to execute the act was, or was not, resistible by the 
actor, is an important consideration ; but it is not 
properly indicated by calling the act one of resistible 
or irresistible impulse. All voluntary acts are due to 
motives of desire or aversion ; and a desire or an 
aversion may be so urgent as to carry all before it, 
and to issue in an act, that may or may not be 
impulsive or deliberate, but that the actor may find 
it difiicult — perhaps impossible — to inhibit ; but the 
act so done need not, of necessity, be impulsive. It 
may be deliberate in a high degree. It may be the 
result of the most careful and elaborate premedita- 
tion, and adaptation of means to the end in view. 
W^e are here introduced to another meaning of the 
word deliberation. In its proper sense, as opposed to 
impulsion, it means the weighing of advantage and 
disadvantage. But it may be used to mean care in 
devising. A carefully devised act is said to be a 
deliberate act, although it may be impulsive in the 
sense that its advantages and disadvantages have 
not been duly weighed. The deliberation has been 
exercised, not upon the end to be attained by the act, 
but on the means by which the end is to be attained : 
and thus the act may be impulsive in the one aspect, 
and deliberate in the other. 



It seems at first sight rather a misnomer to speak 
of an act as involuntary. An act of the whole 
organism, directed to an end, seems to carry with it 
the implication of being directed by the will ; but in 
fact, there is a class of acts, properly so-called, in that 
they are more than movements, being directed to the 
attainment of ends, that yet are not only executed 
without the concurrence of the will, but insist on 
their own execution in spite of the utmost efforts of 
the will to inhibit and prevent them. Coughing is 
clearly an act, in the sense that it is a co-ordinated 
system of movement, directed to the end of clearing 
away obstruction from the air passages ; yet, though 
it may be voluntarily performed, and may, when not 
very urgent, be voluntarily inhibited, it is often 
completely involuntary. It is often executed without 
the initiation, without the concurrence, of the will ; 
and in spite of the most strenuous exertion of the 
will to prevent it. Sneezing is another such act, 
even more involuntary than coughing, for coughing 
can be performed voluntarily, but sneezing cannot. 
Vomiting is another such act. Parturition is another. 
Parturition is not ordinarily thought of as an act, so 
completely involuntary is it in all its stages ; yet, if 
coughing and sneezing are acts, which I think every 
one would admit, parturition also must be considered 
an act. It is a co-ordinated act of many movements, 
directed towards the attainment of an end ; and, 
although it is very largely involuntary, yet, like 


coughiDg and sneezing, it can be reinforced by 
voluntary effort. 

Urination and defaecation must be regarded as 
semi- voluntary acts. They are not wholly under the 
control of the will. They cannot be performed at 
any moment by purely voluntary effort ; but they 
can be inhibited. Their performance can be pre- 
vented by voluntary effort, and, when they are 
performed, their performance is brought about by the 
removal of inhibition. Normally, this inhibition is 
maintained, not only involuntarily, but uncon- 
sciously ; but there are many morbid conditions in 
which the inhibition fails, and the urine and faeces 
are discharged, apparently without any voluntary 
removal of inhibition, but by the mere failure of the 
inhibition to maintain itself. Such discharges are 
involuntary acts. 

All the acts hitherto instanced as involuntary, are 
intermediate between conduct and physiological pro- 
cesses ; but there are acts that belong strictly to the 
domain of conduct, and yet are partly or wholly in- 
voluntary. When the body is falling forwards, the 
arms are thrust forwards ; and this act is not only 
involuntary, but cannot be prevented by the strongest 
exertion of the will. The fall may be into water, or 
into a feather bed, so that, even if not shielded by the 
projection of the arms, no injury would result ; but 
for all that, we cannot help projecting the arms. 
When the body is falling backwards, the arms are 
thrown up ; and similarly, the action is not only in- 
voluntary, but cannot be voluntarily inhibited. A 
sudden loud noise is apt to produce a start of the 


whole body, which is similarly involuntary ; a sudden 
and unexpected prick or burn of a limb, produces an 
involuntary snatch of the limb ; and other instances 
will occur to the reader. 

There is, however, another very large class of acts 
that are involuntary in a different sense. 


An act is novel when it is done for the first time 
by the actor ; and the degree of novelty is marked by 
the extent to which it differs from the previous acts 
of that actor. Thus, in speaking of an act as novel, 
we are not now considering its novelty with respect 
to acts at large, or acts done by members of the 
human race, but solely with respect to the acts of the 
particular actor contemplated. So regarded, an act 
that is widely different from all previous acts, may be 
spontaneous or elicited ; it may be instinctive or 
reasoned ; it may be impulsive or deliberate ; crude 
or elaborate ; work or play. Whatever its other 
characters may be, a novel act is, cceteris paribus, 
less nicely adapted to the end in view, than an act 
that is not novel. A novel act is, according to its 
degree of novelty, as above defined, inferior in applic- 
ability to its purpose, to an act that is not novel. It 
is also less economical of effort. It needs more 
exertion, both mental and bodily, in proportion to 
the result, than an established act. It is, as a rule, 
slower, less facile, and less successful. The first 
efforts of the chick, or the newborn colt or calf, to 
stand or walk, are made with manifest effort. They 


are uncertain, they include sprawlings, and un- 
necessary movements. They are not very successful. 
The animal is apt to sway about and fall. Nor is it 
only the first essays at instinctive movement that 
are thus characterised. The same peculiarities are 
observed in reasoned acts. The child learning to 
write, performs the action slowly and laboriously, 
with much exertion, with unnecessary movements of 
its mouth and tongue ; and when all is done, the 
writing is not as good as that of the practised pen- 
man. So the novice at skating sprawls and falls 
about. He uses his arms as much as his les^s ; he 
goes through far more exertion than the practised 
skater, and the result is much less successful. He 
does not cover anything like the same ground in the 
same time ; nor can he execute the intricate figures 
achievable by the other. So with him who is 
learning the bicycle, the typewriter, the musical 
instrument, or any other exercise needing com- 
plicated action. The first eff"orts are awkward ; they 
include many unnecessary movements ; they include 
many wrong movements ; they are slow ; they are 
attended by much voluntary eftbrt ; and the result is 
inferior in accuracy to that achieved by the expert. 

As the action is repeated, it loses these characters 
with the frequency of repetition. The more often it 
is repeated, the more facile it becomes ; the less of 
extraneous and unnecessary movement enters into it ; 
the more rapidly and accurately it is performed ; the 
fewer the failures ; and the better the result. When 
an act has been repeated sufliciently often, it merges 
from the habitual into the automatic, and the dis- 


tinction is marked, not so much by the greater facility 
and accuracy of the automatic movement, as by the 
degree to which it becomes independent of the 
exertion of the will for its continuance. As a rule, 
it needs an exertion of will for its initiation, but 
once started, the movements continue mechanically, 
and any intrusion of volition into their performance 
rather hinders and impairs, than increases their 
efficacy. When we start for a walk, we do so by an 
exertion of will ; but once the action is initiated, we 
do not attend to the movements of our legs ; and 
any attempt to regulate tlie length of the stride, or 
the position of the feet, by an exertion of the will, is 
an embarrassment, and a hindrance to the facile per- 
formance of the act. It is the same in any action 
that is become automatic by long continuance. 
AVhether it is playing a musical instrument, or bicy- 
cling, or typewriting, or skating, or any other com- 
plicated movement that has once been so thoroughly 
acquired as to be automatic, volition is needed for its 
initiation only ; and when once it is started, any 
further intervention of the will impairs the speed and 
accuracy of the performance. In this respect, an 
automatic act is involuntary ; that is to say, the 
several movements of which it is composed are 
involuntary, in the sense of not being actuated by 
separate exertions of the will ; though the whole 
action is voluntary, in the respect that it is initiated, 
continued, and terminated, by voluntary exertion. 
Nevertheless, if the attention is distracted, and the 
will falls into abeyance, the movement may continue 
without any very active exertion of will, perhaps 


without any at all. The mechaDism, once set in 
action, continues to act, as a clock continues to go, 
without any further interference from outside. To 
alter or to arrest it, requires exertion of will ; but to 
continue it, needs little or none. Hence, such actions 
may proceed in the abeyance or absence of conscious- 
ness. In the unconscious state of post -epileptic 
automatism, elaborate acts of the automatic class are 
done, without, as far as can be ascertained, any con- 
sciousness at all on the part of the actor. 

The similarity between automatic action and 
instinctive action will not have escaped the notice 
of the reader. Action that is thoroughly automatic, 
is determinate. When a person has learnt a verse of 
poetry so thoroughly that its utterance is become 
automatic, its utterance is determinate, and, once 
begun, will not vary from time to time, but will 
always be repeated in the same words. The operations 
of undressing and of dressing, when they are become 
automatic, are undertaken in the same order, and 
performed in the same way. The man who is 
accustomed daily to compare his watch with a 
standard clock, as he goes to his work, will do so at 
last automatically, when he comes to the accustomed 
spot ; and will perhaps not know, the moment after, 
that he has done so. We can predict that at that 
spot he will take his watch out and look at it. 
Indeed, some acts, such as walking, may be regarded, 
from one point of view, as automatic, from another, 
as instinctive ; the fact being that the facile per- 
formance of an act is conditioned by the existence of 
a nervous mechanism, whose activity actuates the 


movements that compose the act ; and the difference 
between instinctive action and automatic action is 
that, in the former, the mechanism is inherited ready 
formed, as the structure of the arm and the eye are 
inherited ready formed ; while the mechanism of the 
automatic act must be laboriously constructed by the 
exertions of the individual, just as the lever and the 
lens must be constructed before they can be used. 
For this reason, automatic action is never as com- 
pletely mechanised as instinctive action. It remains 
to the end more modifiable, less certainly predictable, 
less rigid, especially in detail. Yet that it does, in 
cases, attain a high degree of mechanisation, is seen 
in the extreme difficulty that is found in breaking a 
person off a bad style of doing a thing. One who has 
once thoroughly acquired an erroneous style of per- 
formance, can scarcely ever be diseducated, and 
re-educated into a good style. The provincial accent 
learnt in childhood, clings to the man to extreme old 
age, in spite of his efforts to correct it. 

The origin of automatic mechanisms has been 
described. They are created by use. They are an 
instance of the truth that function creates structure. 
They are laboriously built up by prolonged practice, 
in conformity with the laws of action of the nervous 
system. It is clear that, if such mechanisms were 
heritable, that which was automatic in the parent \ 
would be instinctive in the child. It is certain, 
however, that a fully organised mechanism, acquired 
by prolonged practice in the parent, is not trans- 
mitted as a fully formed mechanism to the child. 
The English-speaking parent does not transmit to 



the child the faculty of English speech. He does, 
however, transmit to his child a capacity of learning 
to speak, either in English or in any other language. 
The spider, however, transmits to its offspring more 
than the capacity of learning how to make a web. 
She transmits the capacity to make a perfect web. 
The bee transmits, not merely the capacity of learning 
how to gather pollen and honey, and of learning how 
to construct comb ; but the capacity to gather pollen 
and honey, and to construct comb. Whether the 
difference, of transmitting the capacity of doing a 
thing, and the transmitting the capacity of learning 
how to do it, is merely a difference in the number of 
generations through which the capacity has been 
transmitted, is a controverted question. Those who 
deny the inheritance of ' acquired ' qualities, regard 
the two capacities as radically different, and maintain 
that the transmission of the one can never merge 
into the transmission of the other. On the other 
hand, the similarity in nature, and in fundamental 
characters, between the instinctive mechanism and 
the automatic mechanism, is very great ; and to 
require that one shall be formed by one process, and 
the other by another and totally different process, 
seems to be a violation of Occam's ' razor ' — entia 
7ion sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. More- 
over, it is extremely significant that certain instinctive 
acts are improvable by education, and thus occupy an 
intermediate position between the purely instinctive 
act and the purely automatic act. Walking is, in 
the caterpillar, a purely instinctive mode of action. 
Tt is perfectly performed, the moment the animal 


emerges from the egg. Walkiug and running are, iu 
the fowl and foal, instinctive acts. I suppose no one 
would contest that the mechanisms which actuate 
these acts, are almost fully formed at birth in these 
animals, and need but a few tentative efforts to act 
efficiently. Walking and running are, in the human 
being, automatic acts. All that the individual re- 
ceives from inheritance, with respect to these acts, is 
the capacity of learning them, and learnt they are, by 
a long and laborious process. But, although the fowl 
and the foal can walk and run very soon after birth, 
and with very little practice, they cannot walk or 
run immediately after birth, or without any practice 
at all. They, too, must have some education in 
walking and running, before they are proficient ; not 
much education is required, it is true, but some is 
required. The human child requires more education 
— much more — but the difference, in this respect, 
between the human child on the one hand, and the 
colt and fowl on the other, is a difference of more 
and less, not a difference in kind ; and it is difficult 
to believe — it is contrary to the razor of Occam to 
believe — that a difference in degree in the result, is 
due to a difference in kind of the cause. Moreover, 
we must remember, and the fact is very material to 
the issue, that the capacity of walking erect on two 
legs by man is, as a racial acquirement, a thing of 
yesterday in comparison with the capacity of walking 
on four by horses, or on two by fowls. 

The fowl and the foal need a little education in 
the accomplishments of walking and running, but 
they do not need much ; and, once acquired, the 


accomplishment is not perfected by practice. In this 
respect the instinctive act difters from the automatic 
act. But the acts of nest-making, and of singing, in 
birds, which are types and examples of instinctive 
action, are, especially the latter, eminently improvable 
by practice and imitation. It is well known that a 
bird's second nest is superior to its first. It is well 
known that birds are taught by their parents to peck 
and to fiy. It is well known that a bird brought up 
under a good singer will, cceteris paribus, sing better 
than one that has had no such example before it. In 
these cases, then, the distinction between the in- 
heritance of a capacity to act, and the inheritance 
of a capacity to learn how to act, breaks down. It 
appears that it is a matter of degree. It appears 
that an animal may inherit the capacity to perform 
perfectly a certain act, as the spider inherits the 
capacity to make a web. Or it may inherit the 
capacity to do the act after a very few efforts of 
learning,' as the fowl inherits the capacity to walk. 
Or it may inherit the capacity to act, but this 
capacity needs education by a period of learning, or 
of teaching, or of both. Or it may inherit the 
capacity to act imperfectly, and this capacity may, 
by practice and imitation, be developed into one 
of acting perfectly. This kind of inheritance — of 
inheritance of such a pure instinct as pecking, or 
flying, or singing, in a bird — is exactly on all fours 
with the inheritance, by the child, of the capacity 
of learning to walk. In its case also, the capacity 
to learn is inherited, and is perfected by practice 
and imitation. There is, in short, every shade of 


gradation between the inheritance of capacity to 
learn to do an act, and inheritance of capacity to do 
the act without learning ; and if the mode of origin 
of the actuating mechanism is diflerent in the two 
cases, the onus of proving it to be different lies 
clearly on those who make the assertion. The proof 
that is commonly adduced is that they do not under- 
stand how it is that a mechanism can be inherited. 
If this is enough to disprove the inheritance of 
acquired mechanisms, it is enough to disprove the 
existence of gravitation, for we do not understand 
how it is that gravitation acts. 



The difference between original action and novel 

action is clear. A novel act is one tliat has never 

been done before by the actor, but he may be 

familiar with it, in the sense of having often witnessed 

its performance by others. An original act is one 

that he has neither himself performed, nor witnessed, 

nor heard of. It is one that he has thought out for 

himself — that he has originated. It need not be 

original in the sense that it has never been done 

before. It may be habitual, or even automatic, with 

other people ; but as far as his own knowledge is 

§ concerned, it is one that, previously to the doing, 

I was unknown to him. The antithesis of an original 

act is not an automatic act, but one that is imitated. 

There are, in fact, two origins for novel acts. An 

act done now for the first time, by any person, may 

be an act of which he has witnessed the performance, 

or of which he has heard or read a description, in 

which case it is imitated ; or it may be an act that 

he has neither witnessed, nor had described to him, 

but which is due entirely to his own initiative. 

Degree of originality in action is measured by the 



extent to which the novel and unimitated action 
differs from the previous action of the same actor ; 
and it is important to notice that no action that 
is not purely imitative, is destitute of all originality. 
Even action so highly automatic as walking, contains 
some original features ; for in every walk, inclines, 
irregularities, and variations of the surface of the 
ground are met with, that are not precisely like 
any that have been previously encountered ; and 
have to be dealt with, by adjustments of the limbs 
and body, that are slightly diiferent from all that 
have preceded. Obstacles of slightly different kind 
and magnitude, and in slightly different relative 
positions, must be avoided by movements, the exact 
counterpart of which have not previously been 
executed, — movements that contain, therefore, some 
small element of originality. When, therefore, we 
speak of a man as possessing no spark of originality, 
we are using the language of hyperbole. Such a man 
would be at the mercy of the first combination of 
circumstances that he met with ; for no such com- 
bination ever repeats with exactness, any previous 
combination ; and therefore, without some originality, 
his adjustment to such a combination must fail. 

Original action is directly antithetic to imitative 
action. It is antithetic also to instinctive action. 
An instinctive act may be novel, in the sense of being 
done by the actor for the first time in his life ; but 
it cannot be original, in the sense that he has thought 
it out for himself An act, if it is instinctive, and 
as far as it is instinctive, is not thought out. It is 
not a product of choice or deliberation, as has already 


been demonstrated. It is determined by the fixed 
constitution of the nervous system, and is, strictly 
speaking, mechanical, in that it is actuated by a 
determinate mechanism. An original act is not 
determinate ; it is a reasoned way of meeting special 
circumstances by special action, invented and devised 
ad hoc by the actor. 

Imitative action partakes of the nature of in- 
stinctive action. It is very often instinctive, in the 
sense that one of the more primitive instincts is that 
of imitation. The acquisition of language by young 
children is purely imitative : the construction of a 
new word to express a new meaning is purely original. 
The instinct of imitation is very widespread, very 
strong, and very important. Many of the elaborate 
instincts of animals, while they are inherited in a 
high degree of completion, are yet perfected, and 
receive their final touches, from imitation. By 
imitation, some birds learn to fly, and to peck, and 
most birds attain to greater perfection in nest- 
building. By imitation, many birds learn to talk. 
By imitation, all young children learn the same 
accomplishment. By imitation, the pointer and the 
setter perfect then' special qualities ; and by the 
same faculty, the artisan learns his trade, and 
the child at school to write. Nor is imitation 
confined to such simple acts as these. Originality 
in one, has always its complement in imitation 
in others. The orimnal artist founds a school of 


imitators ; the original writer, whether his originality 
is in the subject that he chooses, or the manner in 
which he treats it, soon has his imitators. A new 


fashion in dress, in games, in table decoration, in 
the binding of books, in riding a horse, or setting 
out a garden, is imitated as soon as it is known. 
The imitative instinct is the mainstay of convention : 
originality is the main factor in revolt against con- 
vention. In the history of every art, it is customary 
to point out how each artist is * influenced ' by his 
predecessors ; which is a way of saying that he has 
imitated them in one respect or another. In such 
cases, the imitation is scarcely, or is but little, 
instinctive. It is more usually the result of delibera- 
tion and choice. Although, therefore, there is an 
instinctive imitation, yet imitation is not necessarily 
instinctive. There are times and occasions when it 
is highly reasoned, as when Pickard imitated the 
crank invented by Watt, and as in parody and in 
the whole range of intentional mimicry. 

The faculty of imitation is often defective, and is 
sometimes in excess. There are many occasions on 
which imitation cannot be achieved, either at all, 
or without much labour, and many unsuccessful 
attempts ; as every teacher of handicraft and bodily 
exercises knows. The power of accurate imitation 
diminishes with advancing years ; and hence people 
who learn a language in mature life, rarely or never 
attain a perfect pronunciation. It differs much in 
different people, and, while a strong tendency to 
instinctive imitation is a sign of a mind of low 
calibre, some forms of imitation, as for instance the 
subtle imitation in high-class parody, of the spirit 
as well as of the form of the original, demands 
faculties of a high order. Mere instinctive imitation 



is seen at its height in monkeys, and in microcephalic 
idiots ; whose instant imitation of attitude and 
gesture displayed before them, is a very curious 
and striking manifestation, and may be regarded as 
excess of this mode of action. Reasoned, or quasi- 
reasoned, imitation may also be excessive, and must 
be so regarded in those persons who are slaves to 
fashion in any of its very various manifestations. 


This is a manifest distinction, which cuts across 
many of the others, and does not need much elucida- 
tion. A crude act is a simple act, composed of 
few movements, and adapted to serve directly a 
simple purpose. An elaborate act, or course of 
conduct, is one that is composed of many unlike 
parts, and is directed to serve its purpose through 
a series of acts, many of which serve ends that are 
proximate and intermediate to the main purpose of 
the action. Among spontaneous acts, yawning is 
crude, dancing a minuet is elaborate. Among elicited 
acts, a blow in response to a blow is crude, a lawsuit 
in response to aggression is elaborate. Among 
instinctive acts, the nesting of the gull or the auk, 
in a slight hollow on the bare ground, is crude ; the 
nesting of the magpie or the weaver-bird, in a com- 
plicated structure, is elaborate. The web of the 
house-spider is crude, that of the geometrical spider 
is elaborate. The comb of the bumble-bee is crude, 
that of the hive-bee is elaborate. Among reasoned 
acts, a shout to attract attention is crude ; a speech 


to couviuce an audience is elaborate. Among im- 
pulsive acts, a hand-clasp on meeting a friend is crude; 
a hasty marriage is elaborate. Among deliberate 
acts, the pulling of a trigger, after long aiming, 
is crude ; the learning of a profession is elaborate. 
Among voluntary acts, opening a letter is crude ; 
writing a letter is elaborate. Among involuntary 
acts, starting at a loud noise is crude, while the 
continuing act of playing the piano, or typewriting, 
is elaborate. The last example, however, is scarcely 
accurate. Each individual movement entering into 
the composition of the act is, indeed, made independent 
of a separate volition, but the whole act thus pro- 
duced by the combination of notes, is voluntary. 
There is, perhaps, in the range of the normal, no 
very elaborate act that is wholly involuntary ; 
though disease offers us many examples of highly 
elaborate acts that are involuntary. Some epileptic 
fits have a low degree of elaboration ; the movements 
of chorea are highly elaborate ; and in post-epileptic 
automatism, it is frequent to meet with acts so 
elaborate as undressing, taking out the watch and 
winding it, and acts more elaborate still. Since all 
acts are novel when they are done for the first time 
by the actor, novel acts may be crude or elaborate ; 
and since all acts become habitual, and at length 
automatic, if repeated sufficiently often ; habitual 
and automatic acts may be either crude or elaborate. 
It is important to make the distinction into crude 
and elaborate acts, apart from that into instinctive 
and reasoned ; for the distinctions are often confused. 
It is often understood, or assumed, that elaborateness 


of action is a measure of intelligence ; and this is 
quite true in one meaning of intelligence; but then, 
intelligent action must not be confused with reasoned 
action, as understood and defined in this book. By 
a reasoned act, is here meant an act that is specially 
adapted to special circumstances ; an act that is 
not performed in a fixed unvarying way, but is 
flexible and modifiable to suit the exigencies of 
circumstances, and especially of new circumstances. 
Action that is not reasoned, in the sense here used, 
may yet be extremely elaborate. The action of a 
magpie in building its nest ; the collective action 
of bees in building their comb ; and of beavers in 
excavating their canals, building their dams and 
their lodges, are extremely elaborate ; and, as far 
as elaborate, are intelligent, if elaboration is a sign 
of intelligence ; but none of these actions need be 
reasoned. As a whole, they are not reasoned. They 
are the fixed and predictable results of organised 
nervous mechanisms ; and the animals, so long as 
they are not mechanically prevented, could not act 
otherwise than in the way they do. In the course 
of executing these instinctive acts, unwonted circum- 
stances may arise, and may be dealt with in new 
ways specially adapted to the circumstances ; and 
such action would be reasoned in the sense here used ; 
but if no such circumstances are met with, or if, 
being met with, they arouse no corresponding 
modification of action, but are dealt with as the 
stereotyped plan, then, however elaborate that plan 
may be, the action is not reasoned action in the sense 
in which reasoned action is here defined. The want 


of appreciation of the distinction that is here drawn, 
between intelligent action, in the sense of elaborate 
action, and reasoned action, in the sense of action 
specially adapted to special circumstances, is re- 
sponsible for a good deal of the confusion about 
instinct and reason that has prevailed, and that still 


Like several of the other distinctions that we have 
made among modes of action, the distinction between i 
play and work is one that is generally allowed, and, \ 
in a sense, generally recognised ; yet I know of no j 
definite distinction having been drawn between them, I 
and I think it would puzzle most of those, who ( 
recognise that there is a distinction between them, 
to say what the distinction is. I suppose a very 
common notion would be that that occupation by 
which the living is earned, is work, while occupation 
which is unremunerated, is play. I do not think this 
distinction could stand criticism. What is to be said 
of one person taking gratuitously the work of another, 
as an act of charity, and without remuneration ? 
What is to be said of the very abundant and arduous 
occupation, that is undertaken by the great multitude 
of men and women who serve gratuitously on public 
bodies, and as honorary secretaries to societies and 
committees of all kinds ? No doubt many of those 
occupations are pursued for the benefit that they 
may ultimately and indirectly bring to the earning 
of the living ; but very many are pursued with no 
such object, and yet the work done is, I think. 


properly called work. Moreover, much occupation 
that is remunerated, partakes of the nature of play. 
Although it is remunerated, it is of the character of 
play. Some men take their holiday camping out in 
a tent with a friend or two ; others take their holiday 
camping out as territorials, and enjoy themselves 
quite as much as if they were bent on pleasure alone, 
and none the less because their services are remuner- 
ated. The man who goes into wild countries for sport, 
enjoys his sport none the less because he collects 
specimens by which he hopes to defray his expenses. 
Nor is the employment of the gambler at Monte Carlo, 
or elsewhere, any the less play when he wins than 
when he loses. Others suggest that work is that which 
is useful, and play is doing that which is not useful. 
If this is to be the test, then the toil of prisoners 
under the old regime, at the crank and the treadmill, 
was play ; and then the huntsman who follows the 
fox across country is working, if the exercise serves 
to ward oft' his gout. No. These tests will not 
serve. The true distinction between work and play 
lies, in my opinion, in whether the occupation is or 
is not congenial and pleasant. Work is doing what 
you don't like. Play is doing what is pleasant to 
do, and what we would rather do than not. Those 
men who earn their living by an occupation that is 
congenial to them, pass their lives in play, as long 
as the occupation is not pursued after it has ceased 
to be congenial and grateful. If, indeed, an occupa- 
tion, that is ordinarily congenial and delightful, is 
pursued after the point of fatigue is reached, so that 
it ceases to be congenial, and becomes irksome, then 


it is no longer play, but work, and this is true, 
whether it is remunerated or not : whether it is 
useful or not. And if, in an occupation that is 
generally distasteful, patches occur now and then, 
that are pleasant and congenial, then the doing of 
such portions of the daily task is not work, but play. 


The distinction between skilful and unskilful 
action is important in practice, but it is so well 
recognised and understood that it needs but little 
demonstration. Still, more than one quality in action 
is often included when we speak of it as skilful. 
Strictly speaking, skilful action is that which attains 
the end in view, most completely, and with the least 
expenditure of effort. Since many ends can be 
attained only, or best, by elaborate or accurate action, 
and cannot be attained, or can be only incompletely 
and imperfectly attained, by crude action, it happens 
that the term skilful is erroneously applied to elaborate 
or very accurate action, while acts that are crude, or 
that need but little accuracy, are considered unskilful. 
Hence the distinction with skilled and unskilled 
workers. So long as skilled is not regarded as 
synonymous with skilful, and unskilled with unskilful, 
no harm is done ; but the terms are often confused. 
In one sense — the correct sense — a navvy in excavat- 
ing a hole in the ground, may exhibit a high degree 
of skill, in that he achieves his end completely, with 
a minimum expenditure of effort. In another sense 
— in confusion with skilled — his action, in comparison 


with that of a watchmaker, is unskilled, in that it is 
crude, and does not need great accuracy. Where the 
one employs but few and simple movements, the 
movements of the other are numerous and complicated. 
Where the one works to an inch or two, the other 
works to a thousandth of an inch. Both may be 
equally skilful, but both are not equally skilled. 

By the nature of things, there can be no excess of 
skill, but defect of skill is a frequent enough defect, 
and one of which every one has experience, both in 
his own acts and in those of others. 





The purposes or ends that conduct seeks to attain 
are numerous, and need classification before they can 
be systematically studied. Purposes may be divided 
into ultimate, proximate, and intermediate. My 
proximate purpose in writing a letter is to make an 
appointment. My intermediate purpose is to obtain 
support for my application for a lucrative post. My 
ultimate purpose is to secure my livelihood. Ultimate 
purposes are, in all cases, dictated by instincts ; and 
here we meet with a new meaning of the word 
instinct. We have already spoken of instinctive 
action, and have found it to be marked by its 
determinate character. It is fixed ; invariable ; pre- 
dictable ; the same for every individual of the same 
species. We have found, moreover, that it is subject 
to the invasion of reasoned action ; and that, while 
instinctive action pursues, with unvarying constancy, 
a certain end, reason modifies the means employed, 
so that the end may be the more effectually attained. 
We are now to notice that if an end is sought, it is 
sought under the dictation of desire ; and, while the 
desires for proximate and intermediate ends may, in 



many cases, be termed reasoned desires, in that they, 
like reasoned acts, are modifiable under the stress of 
circumstances ; ultimate ends are instinctive, in the 
same sense that modes of action are instinctive ; that 
is to say, they are determinate, fixed, predictable, the 
same for every individual of the species. The term 
instinct is sometimes applied to the mode of action, 
sometimes to the desire that prompts the mode of 
action. The former I term instinctive action ; and 
the latter is instinctive desire ; but for the sake of 
brevity, I speak hereafter of instinctive desire as 
instinct, and no confusion need arise if this meaning 
is kept in view. 

Instincts, thus understood, are inherited desires. 
They are desires that are as much and as integral a 
part of the inheritance of each individual, as any 
portion of the bodily organisation. Instinctive action 
is action the result of an inherited nervous mechanism. 
What the structural embodiment, or basis, or sub- 
stratum, of a desire may be, we do not know ; but 
that, whatever it is, it is as much, and as purely and 
truly, inherited, as the mechanism that actuates in- 
stinctive action — of that we may be sure. Instinct 
dictates with imperious urgency the ends that we 
must pursue ; reason finds the means to attain those 
ends. A classification of ultimate purposes is, there- 
fore, a classification of instinctive desires. 

We have seen that action that is become automatic, 
approximates in character to instinctive action, and 
becomes a sort of secondary or acquired instinctive 
action ; and correspondingly, in the department of 
desire, there are secondary or acquired desires, that 


approximate in character to instincts. The course of 
conduct by which the ultimate purposes of life are 
satisfied, becomes, in man, extremely complicated and 
prolonged ; each ultimate purpose being pursued 
through a long chain of intermediary purposes. In 
order to fit his children to earn their own living, and 
to support families of their own, a man sends them 
to school and to college, sends them abroad, each of 
these acts being achieved by a chain of subsidiary 
acts ; invites their friends to stay with him ; extends 
his influence in various directions, by various means ; 
enters them into a profession ; and assists them in 
innumerable ways. Each of these subsidiary, proxi- 
mate, or intermediate ends is prompted immediately 
by its particular desire, ultimately by the ultimate 
or instinctive desire. The proximate desire is not 
instinctive. It may, perhaps, be called reasoned. 
There is no instinctive desire to send a child to 
school, any more than there is an instinctive desire 
to send him to Harrow or Winchester ; but some of 
the subsidiary purposes, serving as steps to the 
achievement of the ultimate or instinctive purposes, 
are so invariable, so fixed in the race, so common to 
all individuals of the species, so determinate, that 
they may properly be called instinctive. For instance, 
one of the primary ends pursued by all animals is 
that of self-conservation ; and in the circumstances 
in which man lives, and has lived for innumerable 
generations, one of the principal means of self-con- 
servation is the accumulation, in times of plenty, of 
material for food and other wants, that may serve 
him in times of scarcity. This intermediary end is 


now become instinctive. The desire of accumulation 
is an inherited desire, and is experienced and dis- 
played by all men in all circumstances. One of the 
main purposes of all animals — of all organic beings — 
is racial continuance ; and as a means to racial con- 
tinuance, combat among males, for the possession of 
females, has been found effectual, and practised, 
among certain species, for innumerable generations. 
In these species has been developed, therefore, the 
intermediary instinct of combat — the desire for 
combat, or fighting instinct ; which, primarily mani- 
fested for the possession of females ; then found 
effectual for the protection of the family ; and at 
length important for the preservation of the com- 
munity ; has overflowed, as it were, into other 
departments of action, and become, in many 
persons, by the process of anticipation of motive 
already considered, an end to be pursued for its own 
sake — for the mere gratification of its pursuit. Thus, 
in addition to the few great primitive instincts by 
which all conduct is ultimately prompted, there are 
many intermediary ends which are become instinctive ; 
and many others which are in course of fixation into 
instinctive ends. 

Hence it appears, that a classification of instincts 
might be made on the basis of their order, as primary, 
secondary, tertiary, and so forth ; and if this were 
done, it would probably be found that all instincts, 
of every kind and description, are subsidiary to 
the primitive and fundamental instinct of race- 
continuance. The main conclusion reached by the 
monumental discoveries of Darwin in the last 


century, is that all life is teleological — is directed to 
a purpose — and that the ultimate end, to which all 
the action, and all the functions, of living organisms 
are directed, is the continuation of the race to which 
the organism belongs. In the great scheme of 
nature, the interest and welfare of the individual 
are ignored, except in as far as they subserve the 
interest and welfare of the race. To the life of 
every individual, there is a fixed, a natural, an 
inevitable termination. The life of the race has no 
such bound : its prolongation is indefinite. If the 
individual survives to the age of reproduction, and 
performs that function, the purpose of nature, as far 
as that individual is concerned, is served ; and the 
individual may perish without detriment to that 
purpose ; and sooner or later, he does perish. 
Hence, all the activities we are now to consider — all 
the instinctive and other purposes that are pursued 
by man- — are calculated to serve, directly or indirectly, 
the primitive, fundamental purposes of race con- 
tinuation and race preservation. 

If the race is to be continued, it is first of all 
necessary that its component individuals shall survive 
to the reproductive age, and as long thereafter as is 
necessary for the nourishment and cherishing of 
the offspring, and the establishment of them in such 
wise, that they, in their turn, may serve the purpose 
of race-preservation and race-continuance. Owing 
to the high degree of elaboration that the activities, 
and therefore the structure and nervous organisation, 
of man have attained, his full development is a slow 
process, and takes many years to complete. It is 



long before lie is able to fend for himself completely ; 
and during these long years, he would inevitably 
perish, if he were not protected by that parental 
care, which vicariously takes the place of self-pro- 
tection. As he grows older, his own ability gradually 
supplants that of his parents, until he attains to 
full self-supporting capacity ; to the maintenance 
of which a group of subsidiary instincts, and sub- 
sidiary modes, contribute. It matters not, therefore, 
whether we take first the reproductive activities, as 
the most primitive, to which all others are secondary 
and subsidiary ; or the self-supporting or self-con- 
servative, which are a necessary preliminary to the 
reproductive ; or the parental, which are a necessary 
preliminary to the self-conservative. We may take 
that which is most convenient ; and as the self- 
conservative group contains the simplest and crudest 
modes of activity, we may well give them first place. 
Among the many expedients into which the 
struggle for existence has thrust different races of 
animals, it is scarcely too much to say that the most 
efficient, and therefore the most widely adopted, is 
that of living together in communities, more or less 
organised. The grade of organisation reached by 
different communities, varies within very wide limits. 
Beginning with mere physical contiguity, like that 
of mussels on the rocks, the community reaches, in 
many cases, so high a degree of organisation, as to 
consist of classes of individuals, differing not only in 
function, but so difi'erent in structure, that they 
would be taken to belong to difterent genera, were 
it not known that they are all the offspring of the 


same mother ; and so specialised in function, as to 
be incapable of living apart from the community 
they serve, and by which they are supported. It 
is among ants and bees that these extremes of 
communal organisation are found ; and in some of 
these societies, not only are classes of individuals 
of very different size, structure, and function, 
members of the same family, associated together ; 
but included in the community may be slaves, 
belonging to a different race, and even domesticated 
animals. None of the communities of mankind are 
organised to such a height of specialisation, in the 
structure of individuals, as the communities of ants 
and bees ; but many of them are very highly 
organised ; and a large share of the conduct of 
individual men and women is determined by their 
relations to one another, and to the community of 
which they form part. This section of conduct has 
its own set of instincts, and of non - instinctive 
motives ; and demands separate and careful con- 

Thus the three great departments of conduct 
are that which is subservient to the conservation 
of the individual ; that which subserves the pre- 
servation of the community ; and that which provides 
for the continuation of the race ; and each of these 
has its subdivisions, and its own instincts, primary, 
secondary, tertiary, and so on. But though these 
are the main, they are not the only departments of 
conduct. There are other instincts, other desires 
inherent in the nature of man, that crave satisfaction 
by modes of action. Most of these he shares with 

84 CONDUCT book n 

the lower animals : some may, perhaps, be his own 
peculiar property. 

As man is born with certain innate capacities for 
action, so he is born with desires to exercise these 
capacities. The function of the nervous system, 
which is a compendium of the whole organism, is 
to accumulate and expend motion ; and the ways 
in which motion shall be expended, are to some 
extent pre - ordained in the organised nervous 
mechanisms that he inherits. They are determined 
by his instinctive and innate desires. Much of 
this motion is expended in the satisfaction of the 
primary instincts already enumerated ; but it may 
be, and it often is, especially in youth, that the 
motion accumulated in the nervous system, is in 
excess of what can be then expended in the pursuit 
of these ultimate ends. When he has satisfied all 
the main instincts that press for satisfaction at the 
moment, and in the circumstances in which he then 
is, a surplus or residue of motion remains, unex- 
pended and demanding expenditure — a surplus whose 
retention is irksome, and a source of uneasiness that 
may amount to massive misery. To get rid of this 
surplus, action is undertaken. It is undertaken 
for no end ulterior to the mere expenditure of motion, 
and the relief of the uneasiness that the accumulated 
motion causes. Ex hypothesi, the primary desires 
afford no scope or opportunity for expenditure, or 
expenditure on them is become too irksome to be 
continued. The motion is expended, therefore, in 
ways that, with respect to these primary desires, 
or ultimate ends, are wasteful and unremunerative. 


The motion is expended for the mere sake of 
exercising capacities that have lain idle, and clamour 
for exercise. It is expended in recreation. 

Among the capacities with which man, in common 
with many other animals, is endowed, is that of 
appreciating beauty ; and a certain proportion of 
the spare energy, left over after vital requirements 
are satisfied, is expended on the contemplation of 
beauty, and the making of beautiful things. This 
is, of course, a branch of recreative activity, but it 
is sufficiently distinct from other modes of that 
activity, to demand separate consideration. The 
contemplation of beauty, and the measures taken to 
go where beautiful things are to be found, constitute 
one phase of aesthetic conduct. The making and 
acquisition of beautiful things constitutes another ; 
and the huge prices given for beautiful pictures, and 
the labour expended on producing beautiful music, 
and beautiful architecture, bear witness to the urgency 
of aesthetic desire. 

There are other qualities besides beauty, that 
attract us to witness the things that possess them. 
We go to see the carcass of a whale thrown up on 
the beach, attracted, not by the beauty of the whale, 
but by its strangeness ; we go to witness plays, 
attracted, not by the beauty of the scenery or the 
dialogue, but by the dramatic interest ; we read 
novels, not so much for the beauty of the language 
or the thought, as for interest in the story ; we 
pursue these courses of conduct, not for the purpose 
of contemplating beauty, but for the satisfaction of 
curiosity, which is one of the ultimate, though not 


one of the primary, aims of conduct. Curiosity is 
an instinct that man shares with many of the lower 
animals ; and investigation, the mode of action that 
it prompts, is a very important mode of conduct. 
It extends from listening to the gossip of the village 
crone, to the most refined and daring speculation of 
the philosopher ; and accounts for much conduct 
that cannot be otherwise explained. 

In some degree, Curiosity enters into the com- 
position of the Religious instinct — that desire for 
knowledge of, and communion with, the unknown 
and incomprehensible verities, that surround man- 
kind on all sides with a veil of mystery. This 
instinct is the motive of a peculiar mode of conduct 
— religious ceremonial — and prompts also the modi- 
fication of conduct in all its departments, but 
especially in the three major or primary modes. 

Before considering in detail the departments of 
conduct, — three primary and four secondary — that 
have been enumerated, it is necessary, since this book 
is intended as a guide to morbid as well as to normal 
conduct, to indicate generally the ways in which 
conduct may be disordered. These ways are best 
indicated by observing the disorders of the instincts 
by which the conduct is prompted. 

Instincts, and the conduct that is undertaken to 
satisfy them, may be disordered in four ways. They 
may be excessive, defective, perverted, or reversed. 

Excess and defect are relative terms. It is not 
always easy, it is not always possible, to say whether 
any particular phase of conduct is in fact excessive or 
defective — whether, for instance, a man eats too much 


or too little — but it is easy to understand that conduct, 
in any particular department, may be excessive or 
defective ; and to appreciate in what the excess or 
defect consists. Perversion and reversal need, how- 
ever, some explanation. By perversion of conduct, 
I mean conduct prompted by an instinct, but calcu- 
lated to defeat the very end that the normal instinct 
serves. The end served by the instinct of eating is 
the nourishment of the body, and its maintenance in 
health and strensfth. But sometimes the desire of 


food is perverted, so that instead of the appetite being 
directed to beef and mutton, and bread and butter, 
it is directed to clay, or chalk, or filth. In such a 
case, I speak of the instinct, and the conduct which 
it prompts, as perverted. When an instinct is re- 
versed, the desire is to attain an end the direct 
contradictory of the end contemplated by the 
normal instinct. Thus, the normal instinct of self- 
conservation is sometimes reversed, and replaced by 
an urgent desire of self-destruction, or self-mutilation. 
I must guard myself against being supposed to mean 
that in such cases there is necessarily a real reversal 
of instinct. What happens is, no doubt, that some 
antagonistic instinct — for many instincts are an- 
tagonistic to others — has gained such predominance 
and exaggeration, as to swamp the instinct that 
seems to be reversed ; and, for practical purposes, 
to abolish and supersede it, either for the time being, 
or permanently. 



Conduct that is directed to the conservation of the 
actor, is susceptible of division into two very distinct 
departments, — that which is directly self-conserva- 
tive, and that which is indirectly self-conservative. 
The former consists of those modes of action by 
which life is preserved from day to day and from 
hour to hour, including those acts that must be per- 
formed vicariously for infants and young children in 
order to keep them alive, and without which they 
would perish. Such conduct is that of procuring food 
and drink ; of the avoidance of manifest dangers ; 
and of dealing with antagonists. Indirectly self- 
conservative conduct is that by which a person 
administers his means and earns his livelihood. 

The first mode of conduct that comes under review 
is the eating of food ; and this may be regarded in 
three aspects, — selection, quantity, and mode of 

The first stage of eating is the selection of food. 
Normally we eat what is edible ; but the infant stuffs 
into its mouth anything it can get hold of; and this 
defect in the selection of food is paralleled by the 



idiot, whose power of discrimination has never ad- 
vanced beyond the stage of infancy ; and by the 
dement, who has lost the power once possessed. The 
ingestion, as food, of inappropriate substances, may 
depend, as in these cases, on mere want of discrimina- 
tion between what is edible and what is not ; or it 
may depend upon a deliberate selection of inedible 
matter ; a perversion of conduct that is not very 
infrequent. Geophagy, the eating of clay or loam, 
is practised by some primitive tribes of men ; and 
hysterical girls, as well as insane persons, sometimes 
have a morbid appetite for chalk, or coal, or other 
inedible matter. The craving of pregnant women for 
strange food is a matter of notoriety, but it does not 
often extend to what is actually inedible. Without 
being inedible, the food selected may be strange and 
bizarre ; but in judging of this, we must remember 
that what is considered fit to eat is largely a matter 
of fashion and convention. We are apt to shudder 
at the idea of eating snails, although among those 
with whom it is the fashion to eat them, they are 
considered a delicacy ; and we ourselves have no 
objection to eating their congener, the whelk, nor 
even snails themselves, when they are called peri- 
winkles. We should regard leniently, therefore, those 
who have an appetite for meat that is raw, or semi- 
putrid, or in other ways unusual. But when the 
appetite extends to that which is inherently disgust- 
ing to every animal, we must consider it morbid, and 
no plea of eccentricity can excuse coprophagy. A 
less degree of disorder of the same kind is eviuced 
by those who refuse appetising and daintily served 


food, on the ground of their unworthiness, and 
demand offal, scraps, and the leavings of other 

Excessive care in the selection of food is unpleasant 
to witness, but is rarely pushed to a degree that can 
be recognised as morbid. Rejection of food from a 
suspicion that it is poisoned, or that it contains filth, 
cannot be regarded as an excess of scrupulosity in 
selection, whether the suspicion is sane or insane. 
To some persons, the appearance of a hair in a plate 
of soup contaminates the whole tureen, and this is 
within the normal. There are persons for whom no 
food is good enough, who find fault with whatever is 
put before them, and turn up a supercilious nose at 
wholesome viands. Such conduct is vulgar, but can 
scarcely be regarded as morbid. 

Quantitative variation in eating, extends from the 
grossest excess to total abstinence. Mere gluttony, 
though it is very common in the insane, cannot be 
regarded as itself evidence of insanity ; and a certain 
measured degree of abstinence or reticence in eating 
is a recognised practice ; but fasting that is so 
prolonged and excessive as to be detrimental to 
health, must be regarded as disorder, whether it is 
practised with suicidal intent, or whether it arises 
from religious fanaticism. 

In this connection may be mentioned a phase of 
conduct that is occasionally witnessed — the artificial 
production of vomiting. Usually it is practised, as 
one of the vagaries of hysteria, to excite sympathy 
and interest in the vomiter ; but it has been practised 
in secret by prisoners, to produce a mysterious 


wasting, in spite of abundant feeding, and thus 
contribute to a premature release. 

Under the head of ingestion of food, may be 
considered the taking: of stimulants of all forms and 
in all kinds of ways. The following account, written 
for the Report of the Departmental Committee on 
the Inebriates' Acts, embodies my views on the 

A capacity for being pleasurably affected by the 
consumption of alcohol, or some other intoxicant — 
opium, betel, kava, coca, kola, hashish, etc. — is a 
fundamental fact in human nature. It is common 
to nearly all human beings who have tried the effect 
of such drugs, and even to some of the lower animals. 

Dr. A. Shadwell, in his book on Drink, Temper- 
ance and Legislation, says : — ' The fundamental fact 
at the bottom of the drink question is the physiological 
effect of alcoholic liquor on the human organism. 
People like it, and drink to please themselves. Man's 
liking for alcoholic liquor rests on a physiological 
basis that can no more be argued away than the 
physiological difference between the sexes.' 

The late Sir George Balfour, M.D., in his article 
on ' Drunkenness ' in the EncyclopcBcLia Britannica, 
says : — ' However degrading and demoralising the 
vice of drunkenness may be, it is important to 
remember, in all our thoughts concerning it, that it 
is the outcome of a craving innate in human nature, 
whether civilised or savage.' 

Dr. Archdall Reid, in his books on The Principles 
of Heredity and on Alcoholism, argues at length that 
the fundamental cause of inebriety, underlying all 


secondary causes, is an excessive susceptibility to 
the attraction of the intoxicating^ agent used. 

Mankind in general seems to possess, in varying 
degree, this capacity for deriving enjoyment from 
the consumption of intoxicants. 

No desire for the consumption of alcohol exists 
antecedent to actual trial of its use. Savage races, 
and civilised persons, who have never taken alcohol, 
have no desire for it whatever, however insatiate 
their craving for it may become when once they 
have indulged in it. 

Most persons now, in civilised countries, take 
some intoxicant ; and most of them remain sober 
without effort. Some, however, get drunk from time 
to time. A smaller number are habitual drunkards. 

In every person, a certain quantity of alcohol will 
produce the familiar effects of intoxication. This 
quantity varies with the person, and with the 
rapidity with which the alcohol is taken. The 
symptoms, also, vary with the person intoxicated, 
with the amount and kind of alcoholic liquor taken, 
and with the length of time over which its use is spread. 

In most people, the use of alcohol gives rise at 
length to satiety, and to temporary distaste for 
further indulgence. The quantity needed to produce 
this effect varies much in different persons. The 
important difference is that, in some persons, satiety 
is produced before intoxication, and in others, 
intoxication is produced before satiety. Every 
person can be intoxicated, provided sufficient alcohol 
is taken ; but there are many in whom satiety seems 
never to be reached. 


If these propositions, on whicli it is unlikely that 
there will be any material difference of opinion, be 
granted, they lead to the following conclusions : — 

1. That when satiety is produced before intoxica- 
tion, the person so affected is in no danger of 
becoming intoxicated. He is never tempted to get 
drunk. Before the stage of intoxication is reached, 
he has already acquired a temporary distaste for 
alcohol, which is his sufficient safeguard. 

2. Persons in whom the point of intoxication is 
reached before satiation occurs, will, unless other 
influences intervene, go on drinking until they 
become intoxicated. 

3. But many persons who are liable to become 
intoxicated before satiation occurs, stop drinking 
before they become drunk. They are not actuated 
solely by desire for drink. They foresee and recog- 
nise the danger of becoming drunk ; and before the 
point of drunkenness is reached, refuse to indulge 
further the desire for drink. They exercise their 
will, under the influence of a number of desires 
conflicting with that for drink, such as self-respect, 
and desire to retain the respect of others — exercises 
of volition which, under such circumstances, we call 
'self-control.' Whether persons, in whom the 
satiation point lies beyond the limit of sobriety, 
will become drunk or no, depends primarily on the 
relative strength of the desire for drink and of such 
self-control. If the desire for drink is the stronger, 
they will become drunk ; if self-control is the 
stronger, they will remain sober. 

Seeing that the great majority of persons who 



take alcohol are not drunkards, it follows that, in 
them, either the satiation point is reached before 
intoxication occurs, or the desire for drink is over- 
mastered by that voluntary reinforcement of other 
desires which we call self-control. 

4. There is, however, a large number of persons 
who occupy an intermediate position between the 
habitually sober and the habitually drunken. These 
are persons who become intoxicated before satiation is 
reached, and in whom self-control, if it is exercised, 
is capable of overcoming the desire for drink ; but 
who yet allow themselves to become drunk, because 
they do not choose to exercise this self-control. They 
do not reinforce, by voluntary exertion, the influence 
of the desires antagonistic to the desire for drink. 
They possess sufficient strength of will, if they choose 
to exert it, to cease drinking before the intoxication 
stage is reached ; but they do not, or they do not 
always, exert this volition. Either they are not 
sufficiently alive to the disadvantages of drunkenness ; 
or, realising them, deliberately decide that such dis- 
advantages are more than counterbalanced by the 
enjoyment of drunkenness ; or they are reluctant to 
run counter to the practice of their companions ; or 
they feel themselves bound to continue the practice 
of treating and being treated ; or, for some other 
reason, they deliberately refrain from exercising the 
self-control they possess. These persons form the 
class of occasional drunkards, week-end drunkards, 
bank-holiday drunkards, convivial drunkards, etc. 

Lastly, there are those in whom the satiation point 
is postponed until after intoxication is reached, or is 



altoo^ether absent, and in whom the desire for drink 
overmasters all other conflicting desires, even when 
these are reinforced by the utmost exertion of will. 
Such persons form the class of inebriates, who fall 
naturally into the following divisions : — 

A. Persons who are born with an excessive degree 
of the common capacity for deriving pleasure from 
the use of alcohol, but are not endowed with a 
corresponding exaggeration of that combination of 
faculties that we call self-control. Deriving more 
pleasure than others from the use of alcohol, they 
desire it more strongly. Desiring it more strongly, 
they need a corresponding increase of self-control to 
enable them to abstain from its excessive use. Such 
persons are not necessarily deficient in intelligence, 
strength of will, or desire to keep sober. They may 
be superior to the average in some or all of these 
qualities ; but desire for drink is in them so greatly 
intensified, that a capacity for self-control, even 
beyond the average, is insufiicient to keep them from 
excess. Such persons are often of great capability 
and intelligence, and frequently are members of 
families in which other examples of this form of 
inebriety occur. The desire for drink, which may be 
very great, is often intermittent or paroxysmal in 
occurrence ; and the amount of alcohol taken is often 

B. Persons who, with or without an excessive 
degree of the common capacity for deriving pleasure 
from the use of alcohol, are deficient in self-control. 
They lack either the intelligence to appreciate the ill 
effects of drunkenness, or the self-respect and other 

96 CONDUCT book n 

desires antagonistic to drunkenness, or the force of 
character and strength of will necessary to withstand 
the appeal of a desire for immediate gratification at 
whatever cost of future detriment. The lack of self- 
control shows itself not only in inability to withstand 
the allurements of alcohol, but also in outbreaks of 
temper, of violence, of restlessness, or of destructive- 
ness, on slight provocation. Many such persons are 
deficient in intelligence ; they come of families in 
which there are other instances of mental disorder ; 
and, in them a small amount of alcohol is usually 
sufficient to produce intoxication. 

C. Besides the congenital peculiarities above 
described, there is no reason to doubt that continued 
self-indulgence by the ' occasional ' drunkard may 
cause the subordination of self-control to the desire 
for drink. By continual indulgence, the desire for 
liquor is increased. This is especially the case when 
alcohol has been originally taken for some special 
effect. It may be that its stimulation enables the 
drinker to accomplish tasks that could not be under- 
taken without its aid ; or it may be (and this is 
more frequent in women) that it was originally taken 
in illness, or for the relief of pain or discomfort. 
Whatever the reason that led to the practice, it is 
found that the longer the habit is continued, the 
greater becomes the desire for the drug ; and also 
that an increasing quantity is needed to produce the 
effect for which it was originally taken. 

By continually yielding to desire, and continual 
failure to exert self-control, not only is desire 
strengthened, but self-control is weakened, until it 


is reduced permanently below the point necessary 
to overcome the desire ; and thus inebriety is 

Inebriates of this class are miscellaneous in 
character. Sometimes they approach to Class A or 
Class B in family history and mental qualities, but 
often have little apparent affinity to either. They 
are inebriates by artificial culture rather than by 
nature ; and when they are mentally defective or 
disordered, the defect or disorder is often the con- 
sequence, rather than the cause, of the drinking 

This view of inebriety, which regards it as an 
alteration of the ratio of self-control to desire for 
drink, throws light upon the question whether or not 
it should be regarded as a disease. It is a consti- 
tutional peculiarity ; and in many cases depends on 
the qualities with which a person is born ; in many 
is acquired by vicious indulgence. When such a 
constitutional peculiarity is acquired, it would be 
straining the meaning of words to call it a disease. 
When it is inborn, the question becomes one of 
nomenclature. If such native peculiarities as the 
possession of a sixth linger, or the absence of a 
taste for music are rightly considered diseases, then 
the native constitutional peculiarity that underlies 
some cases of inebriety may be considered a disease ; 
but there are cogent reasons why the term disease 
should not be strained so as to cover inebriety. By 
disease is commonly understood a state of things for 
which the diseased person is not responsible, and 
which he cannot alter by any effort of will. But 


98 CONDUCT book h 

this is not the case with inebriety. If the desire for 
drink can be increased by indulgence, and self- 
control diminished by lack of exercise, equally the 
reverse effect can be produced by voluntary effort. 
Desire for drink may be diminished by abstinence, 
and self-control, like any other faculty, may be 
strengthened by exercise. It is erroneous and 
disastrous to imply, by calling inebriety a disease, 
that it is to be accepted with fatalistic resignation, 
and that the inebriate need make no effort to mend 
his ways. It is the more so, since inebriety is in 
many cases surmounted, and in many more cases 
diminished ; and the cases that recover and amend 
are those in which the inebriate desires and strives 
for his recovery. 

The mode of prehension of food next comes under 
review. In these days, when not only paupers in 
workhouses, but the poorest of the poor, outside of 
those relatively luxurious institutions, would consider 
themselves degraded if they were deprived of the 
use of forks, it is startling to remember that in the 
high and luxurious civilisations of ancient Egypt, of 
Crete, of Babylon, of Assyria, of China, of Hindostan, 
of Athens, and of Rome, the use of forks in eating 
was unknown. Not until the sixteenth century did 
they come into use in Europe ; and printing was an 
established art, when the most refined and cultured 
men and women still dipped their fingers in the dish, 
and gnawed bones held in the hand. AVe should 
expect that a practice so lately acquired, would be 
lost early in the general dissolution of conduct that 
takes place in insanity ; and it is with some surprise 


that we find it still retained by dements, who have 
lost modes of conduct of immeasurably greater anti- 
quity. Still, we do find, as might have been expected, 
that the insane make a much more lavish use of 
their fingers at meals than is decorous. 

The maintenance of personal cleanliness is a mode 
of conduct of comparatively late acquirement. As, 
indeed, it is but very imperfectly acquired, even by 
many adults, in civilised communities, so it is one 
that is very early lost in general dissolution of 
conduct. Cleanliness of the person and neatness of 
attire are among the earliest qualities to be lost in 
that mode of insanity which is an even dissolution, 
proceeding in regular order, from loss of the latest 
acquired modes of conduct, and attacking them, 
successively, in the inverse order of their acquirement. 
Accurately regular order of this kind is rare ; but all 
insanity approximates to this order, subject to the 
disturbing influence of intercurrent factors ; and in 
most forms of insanity that proceed to any appreci- 
able depth, failure of personal cleanliness and neatness 
is a common feature. Washing is neglected ; the hair 
is unkempt ; the nails are dirty ; the stockings down 
at heel ; the garments put on anyhow, unbrushed 
and unfastened. Such, too, is the conduct, in this 
respect, of young children, before they have acquired 
this mode of conduct; and such is the conduct of 
those older persons, whose conduct remains always 
in the stage of that of young children, and who are 
called Idiots or Imbeciles. 

Defect of personal cleanliness and neatness is not 
the only disorder to which this mode of conduct is 


liable. There are persons in whom the instinctive 
desire to be personally clean, is developed in morbid 
excess ; and their conduct expresses this excess. Such 
persons spend a large part of their waking time in 
washing themselves. They put on clean linen a 
dozen or more times a day. They constantly search 
themselves for signs of soiling ; and can neither con- 
vince themselves, nor be convinced, that they are 
not befouled in some way, or infested with vermin. 

Reversal of this mode of conduct is by no means 
unknown, even among the sane. There have been, 
and are yet, persons who revel and delight in personal 
uncleanliness, and even cherish the presence of vermin 
on their persons. I do not refer to the supposed 
delight of children in ' getting into a mess,' which 
is merely indifference to the uncleanly consequences 
of following some alluring pursuit, such as making 
of mud pies. Such uncleanliness is incidental, and 
is not, like that now under consideration, pursued 
and desired for its own sake. Religious asceticism 
is sometimes displayed in this manner. The devotees 
of some religions have bound themselves neither to 
wash, to shave, nor to change their clothing, for a 
certain time, or for the rest of their lives ; or, without 
binding themselves by vow, have followed this course 
upon the ascetic principle. When the body of 
Thomas a Becket was stripped of its clothes, the 
innermost garment was found to be ' boiling over ' 
with lice, which was proof positive to the spectators 
that the departed archbishop was a saint. 

The modes of conduct hitherto considered, are 
modes of spontaneous action. The next — conduct 


in the presence of" personal danger — is elicited action. 
Conduct directed to the preservation of a whole skin, 
and the avoidance of physical injury and mutilation, 
and dealing with antagonism generally, is not entered 
upon, except it is elicited by circumstances that 
threaten us with injury ; and when such circum- 
stances arise, they are met in one of seven different 
ways ; depending in part on the character of the 
circumstances, in part on the character of the actor. 
Each of these ways merges and grades into those 
nearest to it ; but in the type, they are sufficiently 

1. When danger arises from some circumstance 
of overwhelming power, the efitect may be to produce 
complete inhibition of all action on the part of the 
threatened person ; who then passively awaits de- 
struction, even though the way to safety may be 
plain and easy. In many accounts of overwhelming 
calamity, by fire, flood, shipwreck, earthquake, and 
other natural forces, we hear of some of the victims 
being utterly paralysed, and incapable of making 
any effort for their own escape or preservation. They 
have to be dragged out of danger by main force, and 
carried away, if they are to be saved at all. For 
themselves, they are incapable of any effort whatever. 
In thus behaving, they exhibit the same conduct, or 
want of conduct, as is seen in many of the lower 
animals, which are said to simulate death in the 
presence of danger. They do, in fact, drop inert 
to the ground, from which they are often with 
difficulty distinguished ; and their invisibility secures 
their safety. In human calamity, this beneficial efiect 


is not often secured, and its occurrence in the lower 
animals is, no doubt, incidental. 

Even in the presence of overwhelming calamity, 
total inhibition is rare. Usually, with the inhibition 
of all other modes of action, the ability to utter a 
scream, or danger-cry, is retained ; and the next two 
modes of meeting danger — yielding and flight — are 
commonly accompanied by the danger-cry. All 
animals that have voices have their danger-cry, 
which is understood as a warning of danger, not 
only by their fellows of the same community, if 
they are social animals, but also by all animals of 
the same species, and even generally, by all animals 
within hearing. It appears that any sudden and 
loud sound may be interpreted as a warning of 
danger ; for on the report of a gun, the voice of 
every bird in the neighbourhood is instantly stilled, 
and an impressive silence follows. Be that as it 
may, the value of the danger-cry, as a warning to 
others, and as a social protection, is self-evident. 
It warns all within hearing of the existence of 
danger, and sets them on their guard against it. 
Its value to individual social animals also is great, 
for it acts as a rallying cry, and calls their fellows to 
their aid. The squeal of an injured dog will bring 
all the dogs of the neighbourhood around him. In 
social animals, in short, the danger-cry is a cry for 
help ; it is used mainly by the weaker members of 
the community — by women and children — and is 
often of great service in calling assistance. 

2. Without producing the paralytic inhibition 
described, which is an involuntary submission to 


the antagonist power, antagonism may produce a 
voluntary submission, or yielding ; which is the 
answer to an antagonism that is recognised as in- 
superable, but yet is not of the overwhelming char- 
acter that produces the paralytic inhibition. 

3. The next mode of meeting danger is by flight ; 
the natural resource of the weak, the timid, and the 
fleet. It is a mode that is very often successful in 
securing the safety of the refugee, and the first 
impulse of most people, on occasions of personal 
danger, especially when the danger is suddenly 
appreciated, is to shrink and retreat from it. There 
are few people whose ' nerve,' as it is called, is so 
steady as not to shrink at the sudden appreciation 
of danger ; few who do not start at a sudden un- 
expected noise, or snatch away the hand when a 
spark drops on it. Such startings and snatchings 
are not themselves flight, but they are incipient 
flight. They are movements that are the beginnings 
of retreat from danger ; and would become full 
retreat if they were continued. There are animals, 
such as the hamster, that do not retreat from even 
overwhelming odds, but such animals are few ; and 
their conduct, though sometimes emulated, is not 
often emulated by human beings. The hamster often 
courts its own destruction ; and there are many 
occasions of danger when retreat or flight is the 
only practicable refuge. 

In the foregoing cases, the antagonist agent is 
deemed of such greatly superior power, that opposi- 
tion is considered impracticable, and is not attempted ; 
but in cases in which the estimate of the power of 


the antagonist falls short of this insuperability, 
opposition is offered to it, and the opposition varies 
considerably in character, from mere passive refusal 
to co-operate, to active retaliation. 

4. Opposition may be purely passive. It may 
take the form of a mere refusal to assist the antagonist 
in his design, without offering active opposition, or 
placing difficulties in his way. Such passive opposi- 
tion, as it is rarely effective, is rarely resorted to ; but 
instances occur now and then. If my landlord tries to 
eject me from his house, I may sit tight, and refuse to 
budge, without actively opposing his wishes. If the 
tax collector seeks to levy on me a tax that I consider 
unjust, I may refuse to pay it, and leave him to 
collect it by process of law. Such opposition is, for 
the most part, futile, and is not frequent ; and more 
active means must be pursued if the antagonist is to 
be defeated. Of active opposition there are three 
degrees, not always distinguishable in practice — 
simple opposition, aggressive opposition, and counter- 

5. By simple active opposition is meant action 
directly opposite to the antagonistic action. If one 
tries to pull me out of my chair, I cling to it ; if he 
pushes me backward, I push forward ; if he brings an 
action against me, I defend it ; if he levies money on 
me, I not merely refuse to pay it, but assign my 
goods to some one else, so as to deprive him of his 
remedy ; and so forth. 

6 and 7. Aggressive opposition and counter-attack 
are further stages of the same process. If my 
antagonist grasps me by the arm, and I merely un- 


clasp his liand, tlie opposition is simple aod direct ; if 
I hammer his haud to make him let go, it is aggres- 
sive ; if I hit him on the nose, my action becomes 
counter-attack. If he brings an action against me, 
and I defend it, my opposition is simple and direct ; 
if I make a counter-claim, it is aggressive ; if I accuse 
him of fraud, I make a counter-attack. 

In thus treating of the various ways of meeting 
antagonism, we have travelled outside the subject 
immediately under discussion — the ways of obviating 
personal danger ; but since the modes of meeting 
personal danger are applicable, mutatis mutandis, to 
antagonism of all kinds, it is more convenient to 
treat them together. We now return to the narrower 
limit, and consider the disorders of the modes of 
conduct, by which we meet circumstances that 
threaten us with personal injury. 

Defect of self-preservative conduct is frequent, and 
is exhibited in several ways. The paralytic inhibition, 
that is produced by danger from overwhelming 
catastrophe, is often a form of defect, for there are 
cases in which retreat would be easy were it not for 
the deprivation of power to move. 

Self-preservative conduct is often defective from 
failure to appreciate the danger, even when this is 
open and manifest. A young child, an idiot, or a 
dement, may stray on to a railway line, or into the 
traffic of the street, and fail, from lack of appreciation 
of the danger that threatens him, to retreat from 
approaching death. He may lie naked in winter, 
with his blankets beside him, but without sufficient 
intelligence to appreciate that, by pulling the blankets 



over liim, he would protect himself against the cold. 
Attracted by its brightness, he may seize a live coal, 
without appreciating that it will burn him. 

All defect is relative. It is a matter of degree ; 
and, though such extreme instances as have just been 
adduced are clearly morbid, there are all grades 
between them and such defect as would be termed 
want of foresight or imprudence ; and beyond these 
again, there is a degree of precaution that no one would 
be expected to take. It argues idiocy to pick up a 
razor by grasping the blade ; it argues foolhardiness 
to smoke in a powder magazine, or a fiery mine ; it 
argues want of caution to skate upon ice whose 
bearing power has not been tested ; but it is no reflec- 
tion on intelligence, prudence, or foresight, to live in 
a stone house, in a country that has not, in the 
memory of man, been visited by an earthquake. 

There are many instincts that may rise to an 
intensity that overpowers that of self-preservation 
when they come into conflict with it. Men and 
women frequently incur danger, and even cheerfully 
sacrifice their lives, for amatory passion ; sexual 
jealousy ; chastity ; parental fondness ; fear of incur- 
ring the contempt or disapprobation, or desire for 
the admiration or approbation, of their fellows ; for 
their religion ; and even to satisfy the instinct of 
curiosity, and to attain the purpose of investigation. 
But over and above all these more or less serious 
purposes of life, men will incur danger, and rashly 
undertake the most perilous risks, for the mere 
purpose of recreation, that is, in order to give free 
exercise to faculty. The attraction of mountain-, SELF-CONSERVATIVE CONDUCT 107 

climbing, of bull-fighting, of hunting of dangerous 
beasts of prey, of exploring savage countries, of aerial 
navigation, and so forth, is often said to consist in 
the spice of danger that they entail ; but this is not 
quite correct. The attraction for such pursuits, 
which we call the spirit of adventure, is not in the 
danger itself, but in the opportunity for the exercise 
of faculty which the adventurer is conscious of 
possessing, and which, therefore, he desires to exer- 
cise. It is not the desire to be in danger, but the 
desire of opportunity for the exercise of coolness, 
presence of mind, steadiness, and resource, in the 
presence of danger, that impels him into dangerous 
pursuits. No doubt, in many cases, desire for 
admiration and applause contribute to the result ; 
and, in very many modes of conduct, more than one 
motive operates to impel the actor ; but in the seeking 
of unnecessary danger, the recreative motive takes a 
large share. 

Excessive solicitude to avoid personal danger is by 
no means an infrequent trait of character. The timid 
and the apprehensive take excessive precautions 
against hypothetical dangers. This mode of conduct 
approaches morbid excess in the valetudinarian, who 
takes unnecessary precautions against disease that is 
improbable ; and attains morbid excess in the hypo- 
chondriac, whose conduct is absorbed in finding and 
taking remedies, for diseases from which he does not 
suffer. The victim of claustrophobia or agoraphobia 
adapts his conduct to escape, not so much from 
danger, for he knows that danger there is none ; but 
from the unreasoning dread of danger. The one 


refuses to remain in a closed room, the other to cross 
an open space, not because his intellect tells him 
there is danger in either course, but because, in spite 
of the assurance of his intellect, he quakes with un- 
reasoning panic at the prospect. The occurrences of 
claustrophobia and agoraphobia are so strange, that 
they would be incredible if they were not so well 
substantiated, and indeed so frequent ; but I think 
they may be explained on biological grounds. 

When our ancestors were arboreal in habit, this 
habit w^as their salvation from extinction. Feeble in 
body, destitute of weapons and of defensive armour, 
devoid of means of concealment, neither swift nor 
strong, their safety from carnivorous foes lay in the 
agility wdth which they could climb out of reach, and 
in the accuracy with which they could leap from 
bough to bough, and from tree to tree. Whenever 
they descended to the ground, they were in danger. 
It is on the ground that the greater carnivora in the 
Old World pursue their prey ; and, adapted as our 
ancestors were, to arboreal life, their progress on the 
ground was less rapid than among the tree-tops, and 
less rapid than that of their principal foes. Among 
the tree-tops they were secure. There, no enemy 
could overtake them, or vie with them in activity ; 
but on the ground they were, as they well knew, at 
a disadvantage. On the Hat, they had no chance 
against the spring of the panther, or the speed and 
wind of the wolf; but once let them gain the security 
of the tree-top, and they could grin and chatter with 
derision at their helpless enemies below. The further 
they ventured from their secure retreat, the greater 


their peril ; the nearer their refuge, the more complete 
their security. Since instincts become adapted to 
modes of life, which in turn they dictate, we may be 
sure that, in the arboreal stage of their existence, 
our ancestors had a very strong instinctive aversion 
against any extended excursion from their place of 
security and refuge. Near to trees, they were in 
safety ; far from trees, they knew they were in 
continual danger, and therefore were in continual 
uneasiness. In such a situation, they had an abiding 
and well founded dread of impending danger. 

This is the state of mind which is reproduced, in 
similar circumstances, in agoraphobia. The craving 
of the subject of this malady is not, as usually 
supposed, to be in a closed space ; but to be near 
to some tall vertical object. Away from such an 
object — in a wide open space — he has just the feeling 
of dread, of impending danger, of imminent disaster, 
of something dreadful about to happen, that a man 
would have who was walking in a jungle infested 
with tigers ; or a child has when alone in the dark. 
And this is just such a feeling as our arboreal 
ancestors must have had when they were out of 
reach of their natural retreat. I have seen a woman, 
affected with agoraphobia, get from one side of a 
court to the other, by not only going round by the 
wall, but by squeezing herself up against it, and 
clutching at the bare surface. Sufferers from this 
malady cannot cross an open space. They cannot 
venture more than a step or two from some vertical 
surface. They feel no uneasiness in a colonnade, 
open all around them though it is. Their reason tells 


them that their dread is groundless ; but reason is 
powerless against instinct, and an imperious instinct 
shouts danger in their ears. 

The opposite malady — claustrophobia — seems to 
me to reproduce a state of affairs of much later 
occurrence in our racial history. When arboreal 
habits at length began to be abandoned, and our 
anthropoid ancestors began to shelter themselves in 
hollow trees, in caves, and holes in the ground, there 
must often have been a conflict between the inveterate 
primitive habit of roosting under the open sky, and 
the modern innovation of taking shelter from the 
weather. The sense of confinement must often have 
been very irksome. We may be sure there was no 
sudden revolution in the mode of life. The new habit 
was adopted very gradually. Only in some very 
violent storm would the first in-dwellers creep into 
a hole for shelter ; and they would soon find their 
circumscribed quarters intolerable, and brave the 
elements as soon as the weather began to moderate. 
Perhaps the new instinct was first implanted in the 
young, by the parents bestowing their tender offspring 
in holes during their own absence, or when cold and 
rain became severe. In any case, we may be sure 
that the habit of taking refuge in more or less closed 
spaces, was a habit of slow and gradual acquirement ; 
and we may be sure that it was not acquired without 
many a relapse, and much ibacksliding. The very 
fact that our ancestors, in their arboreal stage, were 
timid, and that in a closed space their retreat was 
cut off, must have given them, in such retreats, a 
feeling of uneasiness, that was always liable to rise 


into panic, and lead to an irresistible desire to get 
out into the open. This is the state of mind that is 
reproduced in claustrophobia. In a confined space, 
the victims of this malady suffer from uneasiness that 
often reaches actual panic, and impels them to get 
out, or to provide means of egress by opening a 
window or a door. Like the sufferer from agora- 
phobia, the claustrophobe experiences the revival of 
an instinct that has been dormant for untold genera- 
tions, but that has subsided more recently than that 
revived in agoraphobia. Since it survived to a later 
date, since it has been more recently lost, it is more 
easily revived ; and this is the reason, in my opinion, 
that claustrophobia is so much less rare than 

Perversion of self-preservative conduct is not often 
seen. It is, indeed, frequent enough for this instinct 
to lead, as in the food-faddist, and the self-drugger, to 
conduct that defeats the very instinct by which it is 
prompted ; but this adverse effect is not known to 
those who pursue the conduct, and comes, therefore, 
into the category of mere mistake. 

Lastly, a very frequent disorder of conduct is 
prompted by what appears to be the reversal of this 
instinct. The desire to avoid injury, to preserve a 
whole skin, and prevent mutilation and injury, is 
often replaced by the contradictory desire, directed 
towards self-injury, self-mutilation, and suicide. The 
motives behind these acts are various. Self-mutilation, 
and self-injury that is intended to stop short at self- 
injury, and is not a mere abortive attempt at suicide, 
are usually prompted by a hyper-conscientious desire 


to suffer punishment for real or fancied sin ; but in 
some cases, it lias been carried out with a view to 
escape other evils that are regarded as more serious. 
Conscripts, for instance, have been known to mutilate 
themselves, in order to escape service in the army. 

Conduct that is actually suicidal, may be prompted 
by very various motives, of which the most frequent, 
in the sane, is the loss of what is, at the time, the 
chief aim of life. When an adolescent has been 
brought up to believe that the passing of an 
examination is the sole portal to success in life ; 
when the passing of the examination has been long 
before him as the main, almost the exclusive, aim of 
his existence ; the failure to pass the examination 
not infrequently leads to suicide, or suicidal attempt. 
A shockingly large proportion of the German youths 
who fail to take their degrees, commit or attempt 
suicide ; and such acts are not unknown in this 
country, where, however, the acknowledgment that 
the passing of academic examinations is not the 
be-all and end-all of existence, is a great safeguard 
against self-destruction. The equal or superior place 
that is taken by athletics in the curricula of our 
Universities, has at least this good effect. It 
provides a second, an alternative, and a very different 
standard of achievement and aim in life. Failure to 
attain academic distinction does not shut the door 
against success of every kind. The importance 
attached to the passing of examinations is, in this 
country, great ; it is perhaps a good deal exaggerated ; 
but it is not paramount ; and the despair that is pro- 
duced by failure is consequently not nearly so serious. 


Whatever aim is allowed to absorb the whole 
attention, the whole craving, the whole aspiration 
of a person, its withdrawal and relegation to utter 
impossibility may, and often does, prompt to suicide. 
This is the motive of the suicide of the girl whose 
lover has deserted her ; of the business man who is 
irretrievably ruined ; of the mother whose child is 
dead. The last case is rare, and in the second, other 
motives usually contribute ; but in both cases, the 
single motive under consideration is sometimes 
sufficient. There are cases in which the death of 
a relative, who has been the object of absorbing 
affection, has prompted to suicide ; and, as we should 
expect, these cases are usually those in which not 
only the affection, but all the attention and exertion 
of the survivor, have been lavished on the lost — 
cases in which a daughter has been absorbed in 
nursing a mother, or, more rarely, a wife in nursing 
her husband. 

Next to the loss of the main aim in life, loss of 
the means of subsistence is the most frequent motive 
to suicide in the sane. The cases are, perhaps, not 
wholly distinguishable, for loss of the means of 
subsistence carries with it loss of the means of 
attaining most of the aims of life. To the selfish 
man it means loss of self-indulgence ; to the sympa- 
thetic it means loss of the means of making others 
happy ; to all it means loss of power, loss of success, 
consciousness of failure in one, at least, of the great 
aims of life. 

In the insane, in whom the prompting to suicide 
is so frequent, the motive is often different from the 



motive in the sane. In the insane, the motive is 
usually the motive of self-sacrifice. It is based upon 
the conviction of unworthiness, and sin, and self- 
abasement. The insane suicide kills himself, not 
usually because he believes, rightly or wrongly, that 
the main object of life is taken from him, and is 
become unattainable ; but because he is convinced 
that he is not fit to live. He has committed an 
unpardonable sin. His life is a curse to all he loves 
— to all around him — perhaps to all his countrymen, 
or to the world at large. He must die in order to 
free the world from the calamity of his influence and 
his presence. The law stigmatises his act as a 
crime, but it is in fact due to a morbid excess of 
conscientiousness. In other cases, the motive of the 
insane suicide seems to be the desire to escape from 
a feeling of misery that is become unbearable. 

Conduct of the directly self-conservative kind is 
that which is earliest acquired by each individual. 
It is wanting in very young children, and this want 
is the reason why it is unsafe to leave very young 
children alone to their own devices. If a person 
fails to acquire these modes of conduct, as he ad- 
vances to years at which they are ordinarily acquired, 
such a person is called an Idiot ; and the mark and 
characteristic of Idiocy is the absence of these modes 
of conduct, or any of them, at the age at which they 
would ordinarily come into being. 



Under this head is included that conduct by which 
the means are administered and the livelihood is 
gained ; and the administration of means is placed 
before the earning of the livelihood, for two reasons. 
In the first place, there are many persons in civilised 
societies who do not need to earn their livelihood ; 
but there are none, above the grade of Imbeciles, who 
have not, at some time or other, means to administer ; 
and in the second, the administration of the means 
appears to be, upon the whole, of easier and earlier 
acquirement, and of later disappearance, in regular 
dissolution, than the earning of the livelihood. 

The due and proper administration of means 
requires, in the first place, that a proper proportion 
should be observed between income and expenditure ; 
and in the second, that a proper proportion should 
be observed among the various objects of expenditure. 

Expenditure may be in excess or in defect; the 
former disorder being prodigality, the latter miserli- 
ness. Prodigality is, for the most part, a relative 
term. That expenditure which would be prodigal 
for an income of £500 a year, would not necessarily 



be prodigal for an income of £5000 ; and that which 
would be prodigal for an income of £5000, would not 
necessarily be prodigal for an income of £50,000. 
In estimating the prodigality or otherwise of ex- 
penditure on desirable objects, regard must, of 
course, be had to the income out of which the 
expenditure comes ; but there is a prodigality in 
kind as well as in degree ; and there is an absolute 
prodigality — a prodigality which would be excessive 
to any income, however large. 

Relative prodigality also is of two kinds. There 
is prodigality, ordinarily so termed ; by which is 
meant expenditure that is excessive in proportion 
to the income of the prodigal. But expenditure 
may be regarded as relatively prodigal, even when 
it is not excessive in proportion to income, if it is 
excessive in proportion to the gratification purchased 
by it. A man whose income is, say, £5000 a year, 
would not be regarded as prodigal, because he pur- 
chased a motor car for £1000 ; but if he gave £1000 
for a racing car which he could not use, and which 
he offered, the day after purchase, to sell for £500, 
he might well be regarded as prodigal in this ex- 
penditure. Master Primrose, in purchasing, for the 
price of a horse, his gross of spectacles in shagreen 
cases, was prodigal in both senses. He purchased 
that which he could not afford, and he gave for the 
articles a price out of all proportion too great for 
the gratification that he derived from them. Whether 
the racing car that my patient bought was intrinsic- 
ally worth the money — whether, that is to say, it 
cost £1000 to l)uild and equip and sell — or whether 


the gross of spectacles in shagreen cases were worth, 
to a person trading in spectacles, the price that 
Moses Primrose gave for them, is beside the question. 
They may each have cost more to make than the 
price for which they were purchased ; but this does 
not make the purchase any the less prodigal for that 
particular purchaser. For a racing motor-man, of 
the same means, the racing car might have been a 
prudent purchase. For the dealer in spectacles, the 
gross of those conveniences might have been a 
prudent purchase, at the price paid; but for the 
actual purchaser in each case, the purchase was 
prodigal, because of the utter want of proportion 
between the price paid, and the amount of gratifica- 
tion gained by the payment. 

By absolute prodigality I mean a proposal of 
expenditure that would be excessive for any income, 
however large, — proposals that stamp the proposer as 
insane, without any need to inquire into the amount 
of his income. When a man proposes to purchase 
battleships by millions, or to pave all the streets of 
London seventeen feet thick with diamonds, we may 
safely regard the proposal as absolutely prodigal, 
without considering the amount of his income. 

Prodigality, like other defects of conduct, may 
rest on lack of intelligence. A person may spend 
more than his income from sheer lack of intelliofence 
to appreciate that he is spending disproportionately — 
from lack of the arithmetical faculty. This, however, 
is not frequent. Persons as defective as this, if they 
are poor, are deprived by opportunity of spending or 
incurring debts beyond their means. If well-to-do, 



their defect has been appreciated in good time, and 
they have been made wards of Court. Ordinarily, 
the defect is a moral defect. It lies in the lack of 
will to forgo the immediate enjoyment of spending, 
even at the cost — the inevitable and foreseen cost — of 
future embarrassment. A certain lack of intelligence 
there may be ; or rather, a certain wilful ignoring of 
the consequences, and shutting of the eyes to them ; 
a certain lack of appreciation that the inevitable is 
inevitable. But the main defect is the lack of moral 
stamina — of self-restraint — of that ability to postpone 
immediate gratification, that has been so much 
insisted on in a previous chapter. 

Meanness, miserliness, or excessive parsimony, is 
the complementary failure in conduct. It is the 
failure to spend a due proportion of income. What 
proportion of his income it is right and prudent for 
a person to spend, depends on a number of considera- 
tions that need not be entered upon here. It 
depends very much upon the source from whence his 
income is derived ; upon whether it is fixed or 
precarious ; upon whether it depends on his own 
exertions or is independent of them ; upon its total 
amount ; upon the degree of comfort, and the 
amenities of life, proper to his station, and customary 
among his fellows. But whatever the source of his 
income, and whatever its security or want of security, 
there is a degree of parsimony that transcends the 
normal. If a man is in such penury that he has 
difficulty in procuring the bare necessaries of life, it 
is undue parsimony to deny himself these necessaries, 
to the impairment of his health and earning power, 


so Ions as his means can afford them. But in such 
cases we are not often called upon to adjudicate. 
The cases in which parsimony is clearly excessive, 
and runs into miserliness, are those in which a 
person's income or possessions are ample, and yet he 
denies himself the ordinary necessaries and amenities 
of life. Such cases as those of John Elwes and 
Daniel Dancer exhibit the passionate clinging to 
possession, pushed to the point of positive insanity. 
A man who is of ample means, and yet grudges and 
refuses the expenditure necessary to keep him in 
decent food and decent raiment ; who obtains his 
food from the pig pail and his clothes from the scare- 
crow ; who goes filthy in his person because he cannot 
face expenditure for soap ; and filthy in his sur- 
roundings because he grudges the expense both of 
implements and labour ; such a man exhibits conduct 
that is clearly disorderly by reason of excess of 
parsimony, or miserliness. Still more, perhaps, does 
he exhibit it when he allows his houses to stand 
empty, and to fall into ruin, because he cannot bear 
to part with the money necessary to keep them in 

Such cases are cases of miserliness. Meanness is 
not quite the same thing. The mean man will spend, 
grudgingly it may be, and with pain, perhaps, but he 
will spend money on himself, sufiicient to satisfy the 
standard of his time and his condition in life. The 
expenditure that he cannot or will not face, is 
expenditure on others, or what approximates to the 
same thing, bearing his fair share of common ex- 


Quite distinct from the disinclination to spend, 
although allied to it, usually accompanying it, and 
often confused with it, is the desire to accumulate. 
They are different sides of the same thing, no doubt, 
but they are different sides. Accumulation cannot 
proceed without caution in expenditure ; but when 
the aversion from expenditure is pushed to the point 
in which it existed in John Elwes, so that he let his 
houses fall into ruin and be unoccupied, from want of 
the necessary expenditure to keep them in repair, it 
is clear that this aversion becomes actually antagon- 
istic to accumulation. Of the two, the instinct of 
accumulation is by far the more primitive and funda- 
mental, and is, in most cases, the stronger ; the dis- 
inclination to spend being merely subsidiary to it. 

The storing up, in times of plenty, of pabulum for 
future use in time of scarcity, is a very firmly fixed 
habit, an instinctive mode of action which exhibits 
its remoteness of origin, and its primitive nature, 
not only in its universality in the human race, but 
in the fact that man shares it with many of the lower 
animals. It is found, not only in his congeners, the 
apes, in the dog, the squirrel, the beaver, the rat, 
and other mammals, but also in the spider, the bee, 
the ant, and many other insects. In man, it appears 
at a very early stage of development, both in the 
race and in the individual. No savage is so destitute 
of it as not to put aside for to-morrow the remains 
of the animal that he has killed, but cannot wholly 
consume, to-day ; and there are few tribes of savages 
that have not methods, more or less elaborate, of 
preserving meat for future use. In these humble 


beginnings we see the origin of Capital — of that 
mighty power that covers the land with roads and 
railways, and the sea with ships ; that raises buildings 
hundreds of feet into the air, and sinks mines 
thousands of feet below ground ; that severs 
continents by canals, and unites them by cables ; 
that renders possible the discoveries of the scientist, 
the speculations of the philosopher, and the rapt 
meditations of the divine. 

It is rare to find this instinct defective ; but such 
cases are found. Charles Lamb has described with 
inimitable whimsicality the character of one of the 
Great Race. ' Early in life he found himself invested 
with ample revenues ; which ... he took almost 
immediate measures entirely to dissipate and bring to 
nothing. ... It was a wonder how he contrived to 
keep his treasury always empty. He did it by force 
of an aphorism which he had often in his mouth, that 
" money kept more than three days, stinks." ' 

The main interest that the instinct of accumula- 
tion has for the student of conduct, is in its various 
transfers. Originally applied by man, no doubt, as 
it still is by some of the lower animals, solely to food, 
it is now, both in man and in some of the lower 
animals, applied to things other than food. The 
magpie and the jackdaw collect glittering as well as 
other uneatable things ; the bower-bird collects things 
of bright colour ; the rat collects all kinds of things ; 
and man collects almost everything that is movable. 
He begins in childhood, with horse-chestnuts and 
birds' eggs ; and from this rudiment his habit grows, 
until his collections include everything that can be 



collected. He collects animals, alive and dead, and 
all their products and belongings, from fossil bones 
to fresh-water shells, and infusoria skeletons. He 
collects plants from every country under heaven, and 
all their products. He collects minerals, and all the 
products, not only of nature, but of man himself. 
He collects everything written or printed, from 
illuminated manuscripts and rare editions, to postage 
stamps, book - plates, and autographs. He collects 
the shoes, fans, and snuff-boxes of the living, and the 
sarcophagi of the dead ; nay, even the mummies 

Many of the collections are made, not solely for 
the mere sake of collecting, but for the educational 
value, or interest, or beauty, of the things collected ; 
but many things are collected, as the boy collects 
horse-chestnuts and birds' eggs, merely to satisfy the 
instinct of accumulating ; and the degradation of 
this instinct is seen in the very common habit of 
the insane, of collecting all kinds of heterogeneous 
and useless rubbish. When their pockets are turned 
out, as they must be every night, they are found to 
be stuffed with collections of useless and incongruous 
fragments : — torn newspapers, bits of bread, stones, 
leaves, sticks, bits of string, a spoon or a fork perhaps, 
corks, buttons, odd playing cards, and what not. 

Not infrequently, the instinct of collecting is 
powerful enough to break down the restraint of 
morality, in persons who are punctiliously honest 
with respect to other things, not included in their 
passion for collecting. The bibliophile, who is honest 
enough in all other relations of life, does not always 


return the volume he has borrowed ; and cases 
become known, from time to time, in which the first 
theft discovered leads to investigation, and reveals 
a collection of large numbers of similar articles, all 
accumulated ]jy the same dishonest means. Quantities 
of eyeglasses, of fans, of opera-glasses, of stockings, or 
of some other article, are found to have been collected, 
far beyond any requirement of usefulness, profit, 
or beauty. They have never been used, and it is 
evident that beyond a single one, or two, or three, of 
them, they could be of no use to the collector. No 
attempt to dispose of them has been made. They 
have been stolen, not for profit, nor for the money 
that could be made out of them, but solely to satisfy 
the passion of collecting, which happens to have 
been concentrated upon this or that particular class 
of thing. 

One more mode of action falls to be considered 
under the head of administration of means ; and this 
is the defence and retention of property. This instinct 
also is shared by man with some of the lower animals ; 
and, if we include under property, as we legitimately 
may do, and should do, all that is, or is deemed to 
be, appropriated by the proprietor to his ow^n use, 
then man shares the instinct with a very large pro- 
portion of the lower animals. It has long been known 
that each gang of dogs in Constantinople has its own 
well defined district, into which no dog of another 
gang may encroach, on pain of instant assault, 
pursued even to the death ; but it is only of late 
years discovered that every pair of robins in a garden 
is similarly jealous of the integrity of its own district, 


and will immediately assault, and endeavour to drive 
away, an intruder. Long before the term was in- 
vented by man, every robin defended the exclusive 
user of his own petty district, against all comers in 
the sliape of other robins. Similarly, every bird has 
property in its own nest ; and, though its appropriation 
and defence of its own eggs and young, belong more 
to the parental than the property instinct, there is 
much in common between the two. Every social 
bee and ant defends its own hive or nest, even to the 
death, against foreign intruders. It has a sense of 
property in its home. Dogs have the instinct strongly 
developed, and apply it, not only to places, but to 
specific articles, thus sharing with man the instinct of 
property usually so called. A dog needs no teaching 
or training to guard his master's coat, or his own 
bone, against all comers. He has the instinct already 
inherent in him. 

The instinct of defending one's own property is 
little subject to disorder. It is not necessarily 
accompanied by a proportionate respect for the 
property of others, and genuine mistakes and con- 
fusion as to the rightful owner of specific property 
are not rare. When, however, doctrinaires deny the 
existence of property, they run foul of an instinct of 
very remote origin, of great potency, and of very 
wide prevalence, not only in the human race, but in 
a very large proportion of the lower animals also. 
Such instincts are not easy to overcome. 

The second department of indirectly self- con- 
servative action is the earning of the livelihood. It 
would manifestly be foreign to the purpose of this 


book to consider, or even enumerate, the difierent 
ways in which men and women earn their livelihood, 
even if it were practicable to do so, but certain ways 
in which this mode of conduct fails, must be set 

If a person is to earn his living, he must be able 
and willing to perform services, for which others are 
able and willing to pay ; and thus there are four 
sources of failure. He may not be able to perform 
such services, or he may be unwilling to do so ; others 
may be unable to pay for his services, or they 
may be unwilling to do so. The whole affair lies in 
this nutshell. 

The ability of others to pay for the services of any 
person, is a matter that need not be pursued here. 
It lies at the base of the whole problem of unemploy- 
ment, and is in the department of the political 
economist ; but their willingness to pay depends 
upon whether the services of the person concerned 
are sufficiently desired, to make others think it 
worth while to make the purchase ; and this resolves 
itself into what the person, desiring to earn his living, 
is able and willing to offer. If his services are such 
as no one is willing to purchase, it is because they 
are in some way defective. They have not a sufficient 
value to tempt a purchaser, and this want of value is 
usually due to one of two causes. The services that 
he offers are either lacking in quality, or they are 
lacking in quantity. 

There is a large class of persons whose services are 
so deficient in quality that they find no purchaser, or 
no continuous market. Such persons are neither 



incapable of labour, nor unwilling to labour, but 
their labour has no market value ; because they 
cannot apply it successfully without so much super- 
vision, as renders it more costly than it is worth. 
They require constant supervision to prevent them 
from spoiling their job. If such a man is set to dig 
a hole, he will dig it in the wrong place, or too wide, 
or too deej), or not wide or deep enough, or too 
irregular in shape. If he is set to weed, he will tear 
up weeds and valuable plants indiscriminately. If he 
is set to gather rubbish, he will gather everything that 
is movable that he finds in the place. If he is sent 
with a message, he delivers it wrong, or to the wrong 
person, or he forgets it altogether. He is incapable 
of any but very simple occupation ; and even this 
he cannot perform correctly. Such persons are above 
the grade of idiots, for they are capable of acquiring, 
and do acquire, the modes of action of the directly 
self-conservative class. They can be trusted in the 
street without fear that they will be run over, or lose 
their way ; they can be trusted to shave themselves 
without gashing their fingers ; to clothe themselves 
appropriately ; and to keep themselves moderately 
clean. But the earning of the living requires a higher 
grade of intelligence than they possess. Capable of 
crude acts only, they cannot attain to the elaborate- 
ness of action necessary to give their services a 
market value. Such persons are technically called 
imbeciles ; and the defect which prevents them from 
earning their livelihood, is an intellectual defect. 

But the services that a person can render may be 
ample in quality, but may be deficient in quantity, 


or, what is equally important, in regularity. They 
may rise to a high degree of elaboration, skill, and 
originality, but they always have the character of 
play ; they never attain to the dignity of work. The 
only action of which these persons are capable, or at 
any rate, which alone they undertake, is that of play. 
They are often of an active and bustling disposition, 
and then they are always busy, and utterly devoid of 
industry. For by industry we mean steady per- 
sistence in an occupation, in spite of monotony and 
distastefulness. We mean an employment followed, 
at the cost of present gratification, for the sake of 
the future advantage to be derived from it. Of 
such self-sacrifice, the persons under consideration are 
incapable. They follow their occupation with eager- 
ness, as long as it is pleasurable ; but as soon as they 
tire of it, they give it up. Services so rendered have 
little or no commercial value. Service, however 
skilled, however accurate, however original, is of 
little value if it cannot be relied on ; and the man 
that attends his business only when he feels inclined 
to do so, soon ceases to have any business to attend. 
Or the quantity and regularity of a man's services 
may be impaired by illness, and in that case he is 
handicapped in earning his livelihood ; but this is a 
matter in which the defect of conduct is involuntary, 
and does not enter into our consideration. 



Of all departments of conduct, that which has 
relation to the social state ; which is evoked by the 
existence, presence, demeanour, and action of our 
fellows ; which regulates our relations to our fellows, 
and to the community at large ; is the most extensive, 
and comprises the most numerous and diverse modes 
of action. The conduct of every member of a 
community is profoundly modified by his membership 
of the community ; and, as with other departments 
of conduct, social conduct is in part elicited, in part 
spontaneous. Elicited social conduct consists of those 
modes of action or inaction that are produced in us 
by the existence, presence, demeanour, action and 
inaction, actual or anticipated, of our fellows ; in 
short, by the attitude that others adopt towards us. 
Spontaneous social conduct is that by which we 
seek, mero motu, to express our attitude towards the 
community as a whole, towards sections or classes of 
the community, or towards the individual members 
of it with whom we come into relation. In the first 
section, of elicited social conduct, we must consider the 
following influences ; remembering that we consider 



not only the actual, but the anticipated attitude of 
others towards us. 

I. Elicited Social Conduct 

A. Influence on conduct of the Existence of others. 

The Social Instinct. 

B. Influence on conduct of the Presence of others. 

Social Inhibition. 

C. Influence on conduct of the Attention of others. 

Self-conscious conduct : Shyness. 

D. Influence on conduct of the Esteem of others. 

Pride : Vanity : Ambition. 

E. Influence on conduct of the Approval of others. 

Elicited Morality. 

F. Influence on conduct of the Liking of others. 


G. Influence on conduct of the Will of others. 

Subordination and Leading. 
H. Influence on conduct of the Example of others. 
Custom and Fashion. 
I. Influence on conduct of the Action of others ; 

1. On ourselves. 

2. On others. 

3. On circumstances. 

II. Spontaneous Social Conduct 

K. Conduct towards the whole community. 

Patriotic and Treasonable conduct. 
L. Conduct towards sections and classes. 

Philanthropy and Misanthropy. 
M. Conduct towards individuals. 

Beneficence and Maleficence. 




This is the Social Instinct. The mere existence of 
others evokes in us the instinctive desire to associate 
with them, to rub shoulders with them, to be of 
them, and amongst them. Man is a social animal ; 
and his custom of living in communities, continued, as 
it has been, for untold ages, has resulted in, and 
resulted from, an urgent and deep-seated desire for 
the companionship of his fellows, which is now 
become one of the dominant motives of human con- 
duct. Prolonged privation of the companionship of 
his fellows is intolerable to every man — to all social 
animals. It is well known to all keepers and breeders 
of stock, that no social animal will thrive in solitude. 
It is known to every farmer, that a cow or a horse 
kept alone, will surmount or break down the most 
formidable obstacles, to get into the society of its 
fellows. The lonely shepherds of Australia, and the 
lonely hunters of the backwoods, find, after a time, 
the craving for companionship reach an extreme of 
tension that demands satisfaction, at any sacrifice of 
privation and exertion. Solitary confinement, if 
sufficiently prolonged, results inevitably in madness. 
The companionship of his kind is as necessary to the 
mental health of man, as food is necessary to his 
bodily health. The deprivation of either, if pro- 
longed sufficiently, is destructive. And this is not 
quite all. Every man requires companionship, and 
not the mere companionship of human beings, but the 
companionship of men and women approximately of 


his own social state and race, of feelings, tastes, habits, 
customs, prejudices even, similar to his own. In the 
presence of other human beings he may, indeed, 
preserve his sanity, but unless these other human 
beings, or some of them, are in sympathy with him 
in the matters recorded, he is not at ease ; he is not 
fully satisfied ; he does not take the full delight of 
complete companionship ; he suffers, less indeed than 
the solitary, but to some extent he still suffers, from 
starvation of the soul. 

There are people in whom the instinct of com- 
panionship is defective ; others in whom it is present 
in excess. In many of the insane, the defect of this 
mode of conduct is but one instance and example 
of a universal defect of conduct and of mind. They 
sit all day, holding no communication with their 
fellows, and taking no notice of them. If left alone, 
they would stay alone indefinitely, not merely be- 
cause the instinct of companionship is wanting, but 
because all initiative, that of the social instinct among 
the rest, is wanting. They are too destitute of mind 
to possess the social instinct. It is gone in the 
general wreck. 

Whether the monks of the Thebaid, and the her- 
mits of the Middle Ages, adopted their mode of life 
from abhorrence of the society of their fellow-men, 
or even from defect of the social instinct, is to be 
doubted. Such seeking of solitude must be held, 
in the best cases, a mode of self-sacrifice and mortifi- 
cation, such as all religions have countenanced, and 
many have inculcated. In many cases, the retreat 
from social life was due to less worthy motives — to 

132 CONDUCT book h 

laziness, and a desire to shirk the burdens that social 
life imposes. 

Whether the character of Timon, as traditionally 
depicted, is true to fact, is doubtful ; but if it is so, 
it is an instance of the reversal of the social instinct. 
Fiction presents us with other instances, such as the 
Black Dwarf; but in actual experience they are, at 
least, very rare in the sane, pace the French philoso- 
pher, who declared that the more he saw of human 
beings, the more he loved dogs. In the insane, such 
characters are not very infrequent. There are some 
insane persons who are contented only when they are 
by themselves. In the company of others they are 
noisy, aggressive, turbulent, uneasy ; wretched them- 
selves, and a nuisance to others. Alone, they are 
tranquil, and they often beg to be placed in solitude. 
They seem not to desire, but rather to resent and 
dislike, the presence of others. 

On the other hand, there are those, both sane and 
insane, who exhibit the social instinct in disorderly 
excess. No healthy-minded person desires to be never 
alone ; every person of normal susceptibility feels and 
knows when his society is desired, and when it is not ; 
but there are people whose craving for the society of 
others is so inordinate, that they are uneasy if they 
are ever alone, and they do not appear to recognise 
that other people are differently constituted. Kather 
than be alone, such a person will seek the society of 
those who plainly don't want him ; but his vanity 
prevents him from recognising their reluctance. He 
will thrust himself upon a pair of lovers, and com- 
placently believe they are grateful for his efforts to 


entertain them. He will intrude between a man and 
his solicitor, between a woman and her doctor, and 
benevolently add his advice. He will intervene 
between bargainers, and offer his arbitration. He 
is not only himself the subject of an inordinate 
craving for the society of others, but he credits 
them with an equal eagerness for his own. 

Some degree of perversion, or at least degradation, 
of social conduct, is seen in those who habitually seek 
the society of their social inferiors, to the exclusion 
of that of their social equals. We sometimes see a 
cultured and educated man join a gang of gipsies, 
or even marry into a tribe of savages. More often, 
we witness temporary lapses, usually, but not always, 
connected with drunkenness, or with sexual irregular- 
ities, into the companionship of criminals, tramps, or 
other depraved characters. 


Social Inhibition 

The existence of every aggregate depends upon the 
limitation of the motion of the constituent parts com- 
posing the aggregate. When a blacksmith desires to 
divide an iron bar, he heats it until it softens, and 
then he finds the division easy. When a housekeeper 
desires to increase the cohesion of her pats of butter, 
she puts them on ice, and finds that by doing so she 
secures a more coherent aggregate. In dividing the 
iron bar, the smith is so far destroying the integration 
of the aggregate of atoms composing the bar, as to 


divide it into two smaller aggregates, and he finds 
this operation facilitated by heating the bar, that is to 
say, by increasing the independent movement of each 
individual atom entering into the constitution of the 
aggregate. When the housekeeper hardens her butter 
by cooling it, she takes an aggregate which is break- 
ing down, and resolving into incoherent particles, and, 
by decreasing the independent movement of each par- 
ticle, she binds it into a coherent aggregate. What 
is true of these simple inorganic aggregates, is true 
of organic aggregates. In every case in which an 
aggregate is formed, the aggregation implies, involves, 
and requires a surrender of some freedom of action on 
the part of the individual components of the aggre- 
gate. If some members of a flock, or a herd, or a 
shoal, or a flight, move in a direction, or at a rate, 
difterent from that of the other members ; the herd, 
or the flock, or the shoal, will be disintegrated by 
the loss of those members who thus move indepen- 
dently ; and if all moved at difterent rates, or in 
difterent directions, the ftock or herd would cease 
to exist. It would be disintegrated^ altogether into 
its individual components. A certain surrender of 
individual freedom of action is necessary to the 
existence of the gregarious state. On no other terms 
can a community exist. 

The solitary bee makes its cell in cylindrical or 
somewhat oval form. The gregarious bee, crowded 
on every side by its fellows, makes a cell, the 
cylindrical form of which is modified by the proximity 
of those fellows. Where the activity of its neighbour 
meets, and tends to encroach on its own activity ; 


where its own activity meets, and tends to encroacli 
upon the activity of the others ; where the cyhnders 
would, if completed, encroach on one another ; there 
the activity of all is checked. Since both cylinders 
cannot encroach at the same place on each other ; and 
since the encroachment of either would unduly limit 
the activity of the neighbouring constructor, a com- 
promise is made ; a bargain is struck ; via media 
is found. Since neither cylinder may encroach on the 
other, the only possible alternative is found, and a 
flat partition is built up between the two. Each bee 
so limits the extent of her own construction, as to 
leave her neighbours a range precisely equal to her own. 
The result is a structure far better adapted to the 
purpose of the community, than if each bee had had 
full liberty, and had built a cylindrical cell of her 
own. Time, labour, and material are economised ; 
strength and capacity are gained. This typical 
instance will illustrate the prime condition of social 
life — first, the necessary surrender, on the part of 
each individual, of some part of the sphere — in this 
case the cylinder — of individual action ; and second, 
the great advantage that this surrender of individual 
freedom secures to the community. 

From this example, we learn the fundamental 
truth, that the influence of the community upon 
each of its members is primarily inhibitory. The 
condition of living in a community is the surrender 
of some of the freedom of individual action ; and 
correspondingly, the efl'ect on the individual of the 
presence of his fellows, is an inhibitory eflect. It 
limits his action. 

136 CONDUCT book n 

Thus we arrive at the first of the influences that 
society exercises upon the individuals that compose 
it. The first effect that is produced on each by the 
others, is produced by their mere presence ; and this 
effect is inhibitory in character. In the presence of 
others we do not, and cannot, behave precisely as 
we do when we are alone. We speak of children, in 
the presence of any of their elders of whom they are 
in awe, being ' on their best behaviour ' ; and every 
one, in the presence of any one else, is to a certain 
extent on good behaviour. He does not do things 
that he does when alone. He does not to the same 
extent abandon himself to his own comfort and con- 
venience. He feels that something is due to his 
socius ; and the more unfamiliar the person in whose 
presence he is, the greater is this inhibitory effect. 
There are some acts that cannot be done, or can be 
done only with more or less difficulty, in the presence 
of others. The more people that are present, the 
greater the inhibitory effect of their presence ; and 
the stranger they are, the more is this effect en- 
hanced. No one eats a meal in the presence of others 
in precisely the same way that he would eat it in 
solitude. This inhibitory effect is produced by the 
mere presence of others. It is not necessary to the 
inhibition that they should observe the actor. 

In nothing is the inhibitory effect of the presence 
of others more manifest, than in the difference 
between oral expression and written expression. 
When the inhibitory and restraining influence of 
the actual presence of others is absent, freedom of 
expression becomes possible, that is quite out of the 


question when face to face with the interlocutor ; and 
this holds true whether the communication that is 
to be made, is antagonistic or the reverse. Many a 
bashful man finds it impossible to declare his affection 
when face to face with his beloved, but manages to 
pour out his feelings on paper with little difficulty. 
Smarting under a sense of injury, he determines to 
seek out his adversary, with the intention of giving 
him a piece of his mind ; but when he comes into 
actual presence of that adversary, the matter somehow 
takes on a different complexion. The strong language 
that he intended to use, and that expressed his feeling 
so aptly, now appears inappropriate. The interview 
takes a different tone from that which he intended 
and expected. But if, instead of seeking an interview 
with his opponent, he sits down to express his feel- 
ings in writing, he will be apt, in the absence of the 
restraint imposed by the personal presence of the 
other, to express himself with a vigour which is 
subsequently a source of wonder to him. 

The extraordinary want of reticence that is dis- 
played by some diarists, is another illustration of the 
influence, or rather of the absence of the influence, 
under consideration. The astounding revelations of 
some diarists, of whom Pepys is the type and example, 
are possible on paper only. No man could make them 
in the presence of any one else ; and the occasional 
revelations, in Courts of Justice, of diaries and letters, 
are such as would be impossible in open speech. 

The inhibitory effect of the presence of others, and 
especially of the presence of strangers, is as con- 
spicuous in disordered as in ordered conduct — in the 

138 CONDUCT book h 

iusane as in tlie sane. Thus, it often happens that 
the physician, or the magistrate, who is a stranger 
to the lunatic, fails to observe any sign of insanity, 
because before him no sign of insanity is displayed. 
The presence of the stranger inhibits the disorderly, 
no less than the orderly, conduct; and the lunatic, who 
displays abundant disorder to his own family, or his 
accustomed physician, is passed as sane by those 
who are strangers to him. Similarly, many insane 
persons exhibit their insanity only, or most con- 
spicuously, in their writings ; and nothing is more 
remarkable than the profound insanity of the 
writings of some insane persons, who are quite sane 
enough in conversation to pass muster. 

The eflfect on conduct of the mere presence of 
others, does not appear, as the effect of their atten- 
tion does, to diminish with advancing age, or with 
use. It varies, no doubt, in different persons ; but 
its variations appear to depend, not so much on use, 
as on idiosyncrasy. It is, I suppose, never com- 
pletely absent ; and rarely attains such excess as to 
be a serious inconvenience. There is a kind of 
spurious reversal, which will be considered in the 
next section, in which the presence of others appears 
rather to stimulate than to inhibit, but this is an 
effect, not of the presence, so much as of the attention 
of others. 



Shyness : Self-consciousness 

If the effect of the mere presence of others upon 
conduct, is thus conspicuous and powerful, more effect 
may be expected from the direction of their attention. 
What is easier than to walk across the room or the 
road ? No one who wishes to get to the other side, 
thinks twice how he shall walk across, pays any 
attention to the mode in which he does it, or finds 
any difficulty in holding himself, or moving his 
limbs. But let the open space be the stage of a 
crowded theatre, how now ? The very fact that 
scores or hundreds of people are looking at him, and 
attending to what he does, has a profound effect 
upon the way in which a man walks across the 
stage. Now he must himself pay attention to his 
own movements, and we have seen (p. 57) that the 
effect of attending to automatic movements, like 
those of walking, is to impair their efficiency. One's 
legs seem no longer one's own. The ease and auto- 
maticity of their action are gone. Their movements are 



stift', awkward, and constrained ; nay, to some people 
they become impossible. Some people can no more 
cross that space than if it were a space of deep water. 
The concentration of the attention of many people 
upon them, is inhibitory to the point of paralysing. 

The fluent talker to one or two companions, whose 
attention he desires to attract, and has perhaps a 
difficulty in attracting, halts, stammers and breaks 
down in his first speech to an assembly. What he 
has to say is the same, but his ease of utterance is 
gone. It is inhibited by the concentrated attention 
of his audience. The learner who has acquired com- 
plete accuracy in performing a piece of music in 
private, bungles when he plays it to his first audience. 
Persons who are never so skilled in an operation of 
any kind, which they are accustomed to perform 
alone, will break down under the attention of other 
people. ' I can't do it while you look at me ' is what 
they say. The handicraftsman, who has practised 
his art until he has attained facility, finds himself 
embarrassed if some one is watching him — still more 
embarrassed if several people are watching him. He 
loses his facility, and becomes awkward in his move- 
ments. He makes mistakes. The conjurer or pres- 
tidigitator who has perfected some trick in solitude, 
so that he can perform it with perfect facility, and 
with the certainty of success, is no longer certain of 
success when he is performing it before an audience. 
It requires longer practice to make him certain of 
success before others, than to make him certain of 
success in solitude. No one, without long practice, 
can behave with the same ease before persons who 


are observing him, and attending to what he does, 
as he can when alone ; and the curious thing is that 
w^hen he has attained ease before spectators to whom 
he is accustomed, his embarrassment returns when 
the spectators are new to him. An actor who is at 
ease before provincial audiences, becomes embarrassed 
at performing in London, and vice versa ; and the 
speaker who has attained facility before an American 
audience, is apt to experience an unwonted embar- 
rassment at addressing one in England. 

The modification of conduct that is brousjht about 
by the attention of others, is called self-conscious 
conduct : a term that implies that, in these circum- 
stances, we have an exaggerated consciousness of our 
own movements and attitudes. We are compelled 
to attend to them as we do not attend when we are 
alone ; and the result of this attention is awkward- 
ness and embarrassment of movement, which may, 
and in some cases does, rise to a height that renders 
movement almost impossible ; and that has a para- 
lysing effect upon the mental powers also. The 
inexperienced speaker, who has committed his oration 
to memory, and is word - perfect in it when alone, 
finds himself, in the presence of his audience, without 
a word to throw at a dog. His mind is as empty of 
words as if the faculty of speech had never been 
given to him. Even practised orators, speaking 
before audiences to which they are well accustomed, 
even actors of long experience, are liable to accessions 
of ' stage fright,' which render them incapable of 
uttering a word. Speakers so practised and ex- 
perienced as Robert Lowe and Lord Randolph 


Churchill, have had to sit down in silence in the 
House of Commons, overpowered in the middle of a 
speech by their inability ; and many distinguished 
actors have left on record that they often ex- 
perienced lapses of the same kind. 

Besides this inhibitory effect of the attention of 
others on one's own action, another effect is very 
frequent, even if it is not constant. Most people, 
perhaps all people, who are doing a thing in the 
presence of spectators, experience a desire to pose, to 
' show off,' to exhibit some peculiarity of manner, to 
appear to advantage, to ask silently for applause ; 
a desire which they do not experience when alone. 
This desire may be resisted. It commonly is resisted, 
since it is not considered good form to allow the 
appeal for applause to become apparent ; but very 
often it is not resisted, and imparts to conduct a 
peculiar character, that it does not possess in other 
circumstances. Even when resisted, the very fact that 
it has to be resisted, diminishes the ease and natural- 
ness of the demeanour ; and imparts to it a peculiarity, 
that can be recognised by the observant spectator. 

With use and custom, the inhibitory effect of 
attention, like to the somniferous effect of opium, 
wears off, and is replaced by stimulation. The 
practised orator, the experienced actor, the accom- 
plished juggler, finds that his best performances are 
executed in the presence of his largest audiences ; 
and that a beggarly array of half-empty benches 
fails to call forth his best powers. What embarrasses 
and hampers his action, is not the attention of his 
audience, })ut the want of it. If their interest flags, 


and their attention wanders, if they talk among 
themselves, and turn their eyes away from him, 
straightway his powers flag, and he finds his task 
more and more difficult and wearisome. He may 
even be unable to proceed at all. 

There are those in whom the inhibitory effect of 
the attention of others is exaggerated, so as to pro- 
duce more embarrassment, and more prolonged em- 
barrassment, than is usual. Most children suffer 
more or less from what is called shyness, which is 
the inhibitory and confusing effect of the direction 
of attention towards them ; and this phase of conduct 
may endure into later life, and, when much prolonged 
or very pronounced, it approaches the abnormal. 
The confusion and embarrassment of mind that is 
the mental side of shyness, may exhibit itself, in 
conduct, in shrinking from observation, in self- 
suppression, and withdrawal, as far as possible, from 
engaging the attention of others ; and this may be 
pushed so far that the shy person shuns society, 
especially the society of strangers, to avoid the pains 
of shyness. Otherwise, the confusion and embarrass- 
ment may be exhibited in action intended to proclaim 
their absence ; and shy persons often, in desperation, 
do things which render them conspicuous, and attract 
still more attention from bystanders. They en- 
deavour to hide then' real shrinking from notice, 
and their feeling of being ' out of it,' by boisterous 
behaviour, by undue familiarities, by loudness of 
speech and aggressive laughter, which leave them, 
when the occasion is past, suffering from agonies of 
remorse and shame. 

144 CONDUCT book n 

The opposite state, of deficient sensitiveness to 
the attention of others, is sometimes seen ; and com- 
plete self-possession, as it is termed, in young children, 
and in young people who are conspicuous objects of 
attention, though it can scarcely be called abnormal, 
is unattractive. We are inclined to regard such 
persons as lacking in modesty, and to be repelled 
by them. 

Something in the nature of what appears to be 
a reversal of shyness is exhibited by some people, 
who are not always, in fact, deficient in shyness. 
There are those whose constant effort it is to attract 
and concentrate upon them the attention of other 
people. In the language of the stage, they try to 
be always in the limelight ; and to achieve this end, 
they usually play to the gallery. That is to say, 
they seek to render themselves conspicuous by devices 
which ostensibly have some other purpose. A man 
can render himself conspicuous by holding over his 
head a scarlet umbrella, or by sticking an ostrich 
feather in the decorous silk hat of civilisation. Such 
people may not, indeed, carry actual scarlet umbrellas, 
nor do they decorate their hats with actual ostrich 
feathers ; but they carry, wherever they go, a meta- 
phorical scarlet umbrella, and are ready to open it 
and hoist it aloft at any moment, to attract the 
attention of their fellows. We may see the shadowy 
ghost of an ostrich feather in their hats, even when 
they are on the way to church. The type and 
example of them is Bottom the weaver. They 
always seek to be in the limelight. They desire to 
attract and concentrate upon themselves the atten- 


tioii of others. Some must have notoriety, even at 
the cost of approbation and esteem. They would 
rather be reprobated or contemned than incon- 
spicuous ; rather notorious than neglected. 


A7nbition, Pride, Vanity, Conceit 

An attitude of neutral attention is not long sus- 
tained. It soon passes into one of esteem or dis- 
esteem, approval or disapproval, liking or disliking, 
with its consequences on the conduct of the person 
attended to. Since every one desires to be esteemed, 
approved and liked, and to avoid disesteem, dis- 
approval and dislike, these attitudes on the part 
of others have a very powerful influence on conduct ; 
and our task is to discover what are the qualities 
in conduct that arouse esteem, approval and liking, 
and what are the qualities that evoke their opposites. 
We shall then have the key to large departments of 
social conduct. 

These three social motives to conduct, though 
they are separable on analysis, are yet, in practice, 
closely associated, and together provide the dominat- 
ing influence of social life. Every one desires, with 
intense and overmastering urgency, to avoid con- 
tempt, disapproval, and dislike, and to gain the 
admiration, approval, and liking of his fellows. The 
potency of the combined motives is enormous, and 
often asserts their dominance over all other motives 
to conduct, even the most primary, fundamental, and 
original. The desire to be admired, approved, and 


liked by others, or to avoid their contempt, dis- 
approval and dislike, overcomes the desire for money, 
for life, even for reproductive conduct in all its 
forms. For this, men will sacrifice fortune, life, love, 
and even children. How large a proportion of the 
money that is given in charity is given for no 
charitable motive, but for ostentation, is notorious. 
Of the tens of thousands who sacrifice their lives in 
war, how many are actuated by love of country and 
sense of duty ; how many by desire to gain admira- 
tion, or by fear of incurring contempt ; how many 
by desire to be approved, and fear of disapproval ? 
Diff'erent people, with different experience, would 
estimate the proportion differently ; but the large 
share that is avowedly given, by soldiers themselves, 
to the desire for glory, shows that it is a very im- 
portant factor. Again, how many unequal marriages 
are prevented by fear of loss of caste, and so of 
incurring disesteem, we have no means of knowing ; 
but it is certainly large. How many women are 
preserved from sexual immorality by no instinct of 
chastity, but by fear of incurring reprobation, we 
cannot estimate ; but that they are very many, no 
one can doubt. 

Though desire to be liked, to be approved, and 
to be applauded, and the correlative aversion to be 
disliked, to be disapproved, to be contemned, often 
concur in the same person with respect to the same 
act; yet they are not only separable on analysis, 
but often operate singly in determining conduct ; 
and we often apportion them separately. We all 
like Falstafl"; we all admire his wit; but we none of 


us approve of him. We all admire Napoleon Buona- 
parte ; but few of us like him, and still fewer approve. 
We approve of both St. Francis of Assisi and St. 
Dominic ; but the first we like without admiring ; 
the second we admire without liking. We admire 
Francis Bacon ; but we neither approve nor like him ; 
we like Mr. Foker, without approving or admiring ; 
and we approve John Howard, without admiring or 
liking him. We must therefore examine separately 
the influence of each upon conduct, and we take 
first the influence of esteem. 

Esteem, and its emphatic, admiration, are evoked by 
the display of capability and skill in dealing with 
circumstances, and of superiority of any kind ; and 
also by the belief, well or ill-founded, that superiority 
of any kind is possessed. Disesteem, and its emphatic, 
contempt, are evoked by evidence of deficiency of skill 
and capability, by the display of inferiority of any 
kind, or by the belief in the existence of these 
qualities or modes of action. To gain esteem at 
least, and admiration if possible, is the common 
desire of all ; and, in order to satisfy this desire, we 
endeavour to display the qualities that evoke them ; 
or at any rate, to engender in others the belief that 
we possess them. We advertise our successes, and 
pretend to superiority, even if we do not possess it. 
To avoid disesteem and contempt, we conceal our 
failures, and we avoid the display of incompetence 
and inferiority, and endeavour to disguise or conceal 
whatever of these qualities we feel that we have. 

The matter is more complicated, however, than 
this. In order that we may gain that applause from 


others that is so large an element in our well-being, 
not only must we obtain credit for capability, or 
success, or excellence, or superiority of some kind, 
in some matter or other ; but we must satisfy two 
further conditions. In the first place we must not 
applaud ourselves ; in the second, we must not 
demand the applause we desire. 

He who achieves success in the face of difficulty, 
or exhibits, in any respect, superiority to the general 
run, even if it be a mere conventional superiority, 
such as rank, or social position, is admired, and 
receives applause, which is the expression of admira- 
tion ; but if we detect that he is already in receipt 
of applause from himself, our own is at once checked 
and diminished. We are piqued that he should have 
the presumption to forestall our own judgment. We 
are annoyed that he has shown himself independent 
of our opinion. His self-assurance, and applause of 
himself, are distasteful to us. H he chooses to 
applaud himself, without waiting for our sanction, 
we are apt to let him content himself with that 
applause, and to withhold our own. Those alone 
receive unstinted applause, who combine high 
achievement with modesty of demeanour. If we 
desire to stand high in the estimation of others, and 
to receive their applause, we must assume the virtue 
of modesty, if we have it not. However satisfied 
we may be of our own excellence and superiority, we 
must keep that satisfaction to ourselves, and not 
express it openly. We must not even allow it to 
leak out in our demeanour. 

Such suppression is not possible to all. We can 


all suppress the verbal expression of any superiority 
of which we feel ourselves possessed ; but a person in 
whom the consciousness of superiority or excellence 
is very strong, cannot suppress all manifestation of 
it. It peeps through, unintentionally, and it may be 
altogether unconsciously, in his demeanour. The 
overt assumption of superiority is termed Arrogance 
of demeanour, and the covert assumption is termed 

The second negative condition necessary to secure 
the applause of others, is to refrain from demanding 
it. Applause that is solicited is withheld ; or if, for 
reasons, we feel obliged to accord it, it is not genuine, 
or not wholly genuine. We may feel admiration, 
but if our applause is solicited, we are inclined to 
suppress it. Applause is a free gift : no one has a 
right to demand it ; and the more explicitly and 
urgently it is demanded, the more we feel inclined 
to withhold it. A man may merit our applause 
by the exhibition of indisputable skill, capacity, 
superiority, or excellence ; but if he has the bad 
taste to demand our applause as of right, we deny 
it to him. No man can have a right to a free gift. 

That impatience which is not content to wait for 
applause until it is spontaneously given, but must 
ask for it, may rest upon a real excellence, or on one 
which has no real existence, but exists only in the 
imagination of the demander. In the first case it is 
termed Vanity, and in the second Conceit ; and the 
demand may be conveyed in plain terms, or in- 
directly, or by demeanour only. Applause is seldom 
seriously demanded in plain terms, but is often 



demanded indirectly ; and vanity and conceit are 
exhibited in various ways. The crudest methods of 
indirect demand are boasting and bragging ; boasting 
being the relation of actual achievement by the 
boaster, bragging the relation of what he could do 
if he liked ; but this crude method is so manifestly 
calculated to defeat its own purpose, that it is 
employed by those only in whom vanity or conceit 
is carried to excess, or who are wanting in reticence, 
or are exceptionally naive. A more frequent and 
more subtle method of demanding applause, is to 
exaggerate, or, without exaggeration, to exhibit and 
emphasise, the diJBBculties of the feat for which applause 
is desired. This device is often undetected ; but 
when it is detected, its detection diminishes, as all 
asking for applause diminishes, the amount and 
heartiness of the applause that the feat may merit, 
and would otherwise obtain. In exhibiting skill and 
capacity, a man should not draw attention to his 
skill and capacity. He should appear intent solely 
on achieving his object ; not on the double task of 
achieving his object and drawing attention to his 
skill in doing so. All attitudinising, all flourishes, 
all unnecessary display of capacity, are so many 
devices for soliciting applause, and are certain means 
of diminishing the applause of those who see through 
the device. The highest skill, which receives the 
most ungrudging applause of the most competent 
critics, is not that in which difficulties are exhibited 
and emphasised, but that in which they a,re ignored 
and concealed. This is the meaning of the maxim, 
Ars est celare artem. So necessary to the obtaining 


of ungrudging applause, is the absence of any demand 
for it, that a little want of self-possession is sometimes 
more effectual than that perfect self-possession that 
borders on the expression of vanity. For this reason, 
an accomplished House of Commons orator advised 
a novice not to be too perfect in the delivery of his 
maiden speech. If he hesitated now and then, if he 
even appeared to lose the thread of his discourse, and 
break down temporarily, it would find him more 
favour with his audience than a more perfect 

Complementarily, we hide from others our failures 
and our unskilfulness ; for such exhibitions bring us 
into disesteem and contempt with our fellows ; and 
few experiences are more bitter than the knowledge 
that we have brought ourselves into contempt. In 
every endeavour, we have three efficient motives for 
attaining success : three for avoiding failure. We 
desire to attain, for its own sake, and for the benefit 
that flows from it, the aim of our endeavour ; we 
desire the more abstract and general satisfaction that 
success of any kind brings with it ; and we desire the 
enhanced estimation of our fellows that attends the 
publication of our success. We desire to avoid 
failure lest we lose the aim of our endeavour ; lest 
we suffer the pangs of failure; lest we incur the 
diminution of neighbourly esteem that attends the 
knowledge that we have failed. 

Conduct calculated to gain the esteem, and escape 
the disesteem, of others, is subject to many vagaries. 
Many profess indifference to the esteem of others, 
but those who do so with sincerity are very few. 


The paiu of being in contempt is so severe, that few 
indeed will not try to avoid it. A man may, indeed, 
confess his own failures, and tell stories against 
himself; but only in small matters, or in matters 
foreign to the main purposes of life. In greater 
matters, he will attribute failure, not to his own 
want of capability, but to unavoidable misfortune, 
or to the machinations of others. In moods of 
depression, indeed, we may confess to incapability 
or inferiority, but such confessions are often indirect 
appeals for contradiction, or for sympathy. In the 
morbid depression of insanity, the consciousness of 
incapacity, incompetence, and general unworthiness, 
is dominant ; and then confession of these inferiorities 
is exaggerated in emphasis, and goes far beyond the 

The commoner faults are an excess of the passion 
for admiration and applause, leading to conduct that 
is calculated to achieve this end, at the cost of 
forfeiting the approval and liking of others ; and a 
pursuit of applause that is too direct, or too evident, 
and consequently fails, for the reasons already stated. 

We commonly discriminate between the craving 
for an applause that is widespread and uncritical, 
and for that of a smaller, but more critical circle. 
Conduct of the first kind must be histrionic, and 
must rather exhibit excellence in doing that which 
every one can do less well ; while conduct of the 
second kind need not be showy, and is apt to be the 
doing well of that which but few can do at all. 
Ambition that is inordinate, that is to say, that 
strives for admiration alone, regardless of approba- 


tion and liking, is apt to lead to disaster. It incurs 
the dislike of many, who therefore antagonise the 
ambitious man ; and the disapprobation of many, 
who therefore refrain from supporting him. The 
most conspicuous example in history is, of course, 
Napoleon Buonaparte. Desire for admiration may 
prompt conduct of almost any kind, from bravery in 
war to philosophic speculation ; from feats of personal 
strength to display in costume ; from the laborious 
acquisition of fluency of speech to ostentatious dona- 
tions to the poor. The passion for admiration, so 
called, that we witness in certain women, is not so 
much a social as a sexual craving. What they desire, 
and by this conduct seek, is not so much common 
admiration, as the attraction of the opposite sex. 
The desire for the admiration of their own sex is not, 
indeed, wanting ; it may enter largely into their 
motive ; but the proximate motive is predominantly 
sexual. In no case is the distinction between conduct 
in pursuit of admiration, and conduct in pursuit of 
approbation and of liking, clearer than in this. Such 
women desire the admiration and liking of men, but if 
they can secure the admiration of women, they are 
indifterent to the hostility they inspire ; nay, it is 
even an additional gratification, as evidence of 

If we desire the applause of others, we must, as 
already shown, refrain from applauding ourselves, 
and from those peculiarities of manner and demeanour 
which indicate self-applause, as well as from demand- 
ing or supplicating for applause, or making naked 
claim to superiority. Failures of reticence in these 



respects are not infrequent, and may be truly 
regarded as perversions of conduct, since they defeat 
the very object that they seek to attain. The man 
of arrogant demeanour exhibits a self-applause, and, 
by implication, an indifference to the esteem of others, 
which arouses our hostility. The naive self-applause 
of Ruskin excites in us, not admiration, but rather 
contempt ; and so does the arrogance of Carlyle. 
The boaster and the braggart do not obtain the 
admiration they seek, and rather diminish than 
increase our esteem for them. Short of boasting and 
bragging, there is a subtler mode of asking for admira- 
tion by talking about oneself, which assumes that we 
are of sufficient importance to be the subject of con- 
versatiron ; and still more indirect is that insincere 
self-depreciation, that is intended to evoke contradic- 
tion : one of many instances of the pride that apes 

Though it is not peculiar to the insane, nothing 
is more characteristic of the insane than boasting and 
bragging, and the limitation of conversation to them- 
selves and their own affairs ; and, as we should expect, 
these modes of conduct reach, in the insane, a pitch 
of enormity that is never witnessed in the sane. 



Elicited Morality 

What qualities in conduct are admired and applauded, 
and what inspire disesteem and contempt, we have 
already discovered. We are now to find the qualities 
that are approved, and are displayed in order to win 
approval ; and those that are disapproved, and are, in 
consequence, either eschewed or concealed ; and they 
are not far to seek. That conduct is approved, and 
called right, that is beneficial to the community or to 
the stirp ; and that which is detrimental to the com- 
munity or the stirp, is disapproved, reprobated, and 
called wrong. Moral conduct is conduct that serves 
the common interest, or the interest of the stirp, as 
distinguished from the interest of the actor. Conduct 
that is regarded as immoral and wrong, is conduct 
injurious, either to the community as a whole, or to 
individual members or classes of the community, or 
to the stirp. These, I say, are the qualities in conduct 
that are respectively approved, and called right or 
moral ; or disapproved, and called wrong or immoral ; 
but I do not say that these qualities are thus regarded 



because they are discerned to have these effects. In 
approving or disapproving conduct, as right or wrong, 
we do not avowedly, or even consciously, rest our 
approval or disapproval on the beneficial or injurious 
effect of the conduct. This does not enter into our 
judgment. We regard certain modes of conduct 
instinctively, as right or wrong ; we consider right- 
nesa and wrongness as primary qualities of conduct, 
not needing explanation, and scarcely susceptible of 
explanation. We consider murder and robbery wrong 
in themselves — intrinsically and manifestly wrong, 
instinctively abhorrent — without regard to their effect 
on society. We consider parental solicitude and filial 
piety right in themselves — intrinsically and manifestly 
right — and approve them instinctively, without need- 
ing to give, as a reason for our approval, that they 
are beneficial to the stirp. 

Nor do I wish to imply that right conduct is 
followed solely from the motive of securing approval ; 
wrong conduct eschewed from the sole motive of 
avoiding disapproval. A morality that rests on such 
foundations, is not much superior to that which is 
based on the expectation of reward, and the fear of 
punishment. Those only are of the highest morality, 
whose conduct does, indeed, secure approval, but is 
dictated, not by the desire to secure approval, but by 
the simple desire to do what is right because it is felt 
and believed to be right — in short, from a sense of 
duty. This, however, is Spontaneous Morality, and 
is considered in a subsequent chapter. Here we are 
treating of Elicited Morality only, for Moral Conduct 
is no exception to the rule, that the external factor, as 



well as the internal factor, enters into the guidance of 
Conduct in every department. The highest and truest 
morality is that which is dictated by the internal 
factor alone : — that which is followed from an instinc- 
tive desire to do what is believed and felt to be right : 
to avoid and repel that which is believed or felt to be 
wrong. But, in the present stage of human develop- 
ment, many persons are imperfectly socialised in this 
respect. Their sense of duty is imperfectly developed, 
and were it not reinforced by other sanctions, would 
be insufficient to keep them in the path of rectitude. 
But, since adherence to this path is necessary for the 
preservation of the community, and therefore of the 
stirp, several other sanctions, besides that of con- 
science, have come into existence, in order to fence 
the path about. The patent necessity for an external 
reinforcement of the sense of duty, has led every 
community to institute its own system of criminal 
law, which safeguards the social fabric, by punishing 
acts that are injurious to it. A method so direct, 
and so brutal, is felt to be crude and artificial ; and, 
at best, it merely punishes infractions of social order 
after they have taken place. A far more effectual 
remedy would be one that should prevent them ; and 
to this end, the Religious sanction ministers ; as will 
hereafter be shown. But the sense of duty is, in 
many, so weak, and the importance to society of pre- 
serving its integrity against internal aggressions is 
so vital, that a third influence is brought to bear 
against them. This is the growth and development, 
in the minds of men, of pleasure derived from the 
approval, and pain derived from the disapproval, of 


their fellows. To secure tliis pleasure, and avoid this 
pain, men who would not be deterred from wrong- 
doing by any internal sense of duty, or by any in- 
fluence of religion, may yet be kept in the straight 
path of morality. 

It has been said that that conduct is approved 
which is beneficial, either to society or to the stirp ; 
and that is disapproved, which is injurious to one 
or other. The truth of this thesis may not be self- 
evident, but a little consideration will show that it 
must be true. 

The desire to obtain the approval of others for 
our conduct, and to avoid their disapproval, is, as has 
been shown, a very powerful and pervading motive 
to conduct. In everything that we do and say, we 
keep one eye on the efl:ect our action will have in 
gaining or forfeiting the approval of others. ' What 
will people think ? ' is a question constantly on the 
tongues of some, and constantly in the minds of all. 
There is no reason of comfort or convenience why a 
man should not go to a dinner-party in his shooting 
jacket and knickerbockers, or a woman should not go 
to a wedding in deep mourning. They do not dress 
thus, however ; and the reason they do not is that, 
if the action occurs to them, they ask themselves 
what people will think. They are deterred by the 
disapproval they will incur. We all try to act so as 
to gain approval and avoid disapproval : and these 
motives influence us in nearly everything we do. 
Consequently, the conduct of every member of the 
community tends to conform, and in the majority of 
his acts does conform, with what his fellows approve 


of; and teuds to avoid, aud for the most part does 
avoid, acts of which they disapprove. If, therefore, 
conduct that is generally approved were detrimental 
to the community, it would be generally followed ; 
and in the long run the community must perish. If 
conduct that is beneficial were disapproved, it would 
be generally eschewed, and the community would be 
defeated, and superseded by one in which disapproval 
was more advantageously bestowed. The history of 
the human race, in the main a history of conflict, has 
been long enough, and arduous enough, to bring 
about an adjustment of approval to beneficial 
conduct, and of disapproval to harmful conduct, even 
if such adjustment did not originally exist ; for, by 
natural selection, those communities in which the 
adjustment was more complete, would survive and 
prevail : those in which it was less complete, would 
perish, or be exterminated. 

Whether the approval of conduct is owing to any 
appreciation of its beneficial character or not, is of 
no importance. It is enough that conduct of this 
character is approved, no matter whether the reason 
of the approval is rational or irrational ; or whether 
the approval rests on no reason at all. It would be 
safe to say that the biological value of the conduct 
is seldom the ground of the approval. We regard 
action as right or wrong on grounds of authority, of 
sympathy, of prejudice, of our suppositious as to the 
will of the Deity, or on no acknowledged ground at 
all. Many acts are instinctively perceived to be 
right or wrong, without consideration or deliberate 
judgment ; and what this instinctive perception 



means, will be explained below ; but wlietlier we 
know it or not, our approval is given to conduct that 
is beneficial to the community or the stirp, and our 
disapproval to conduct that is of the opposite 

Even if the ground of our approval were, origin- 
ally, appreciation of the beneficial character of the 
conduct, this would not long remain the ground. 
By anticipation of motive, the ultimate end would 
drop out of sight, and the conduct would be followed 
for its own sake. From an intermediate end it would 
advance to an ultimate end, just as the ringing 
of church bells and the teaching of Latin have so 
advanced ; and as in these cases, if a reason is sought, 
some new reason is advanced in place of the true one, 
which is forgotten. The action has, in short, ceased 
to be reasoned, and is become instinctive. 

If, now, we examine the conduct that is in fact 
approved, and considered to be right, we shall find 
that it does, in fact, conform to the description, of 
being beneficial to the community and the stirp, 
regardless of the actor ; while that which is dis- 
approved, may be beneficial to the actor, but is 
detrimental to the community or to the stirp. We 
have seen in a previous chapter, that the influence of 
society on the individual is in the main inhibitory. 
Society limits our activity in this direction and in 
that ; but where it does not limit us, it leaves us 
very much to our own devices. It prescribes what we 
may not do, without exhorting us as to what we are 
to do. It is a gardener that prunes, but does not 
train. The fear of disapproval is mainly prohibitory. 



and is therefore a more general motive to conduct 
than the desire for approval, which is less prohibitory 
and more stimulating. Moreover, the ways in which 
injury may be done to the community or the stirp, 
are more numerous than the ways in which they can 
be benefited ; and consequently, we shall find that 
the modes of conduct of which we disapprove, and 
which we stigmatise as wrong, are more numerous 
than those on which we bestow active approbation. 
We are now to discover the kinds of acts that are 
disapproved and regarded as wrong. 

Wrong conduct is conduct that is injurious to the 
community or to the stirp ; and as to the first kind 
of wrong conduct, it may be injurious directly or 
indirectly, and to the community as a whole, t/O 
sections or classes, or to individuals. Conduct that is 
injurious to the stirp must be separately considered. 

Conduct that is directly injurious to the whole 
community is treason. Technically, treason is levying 
war against the king, compassing his death, or assist- 
ing his enemies ; but we are not bound to this 
technical meaning ; and it seems to me that the true 
mischief of treason is injury, not so much of the king, 
as of the commonwealth, of which the king is the 
representative. When the technical meaning was 
fixed, the tenure of his throne by the monarch was 
comparatively insecure, and the king not merely 
reigned, but governed. His death or deposition was 
a serious calamity, and diminished the security of 
the kingdom itself from invasion, and of every 
person in it from foes, both native and foreign. In 
the absence of a strong hand at the centre of 



government, the peace was not kept ; and no one 
knew what pretender might arise, or what disorder 
might not ensue on the demise of the crown. Now- 
adays, the government is distributed over a much 
wider basis, and is much more secure. Amurath to 
Amurath succeeds, without the slightest apprehension 
of danger to the nation, either from without or from 
within ; and the death or removal of the king is no 
longer the most serious evil that can befall the 
nation. Hence, our concept of treason may be 
widened. Compassing the death of the king, or, 
generally, antagonism to him, was resented, not 
merely because of the divinity that doth hedge a 
king, but because the king held in his hand the 
power, safety, and welfare of the kingdom ; and to 
strike at him was to strike at the whole community. 
The king was not merely the ruler and governor of 
the nation ; he was its symbol also ; and attack upon 
him was resented, not merely as an attack on his 
person, but as an attack upon the whole nation 
that he symbolised. In short, antagonism to the 
king is but one mode of injurious action on the 
nation that the king represents ; and is therefore but 
one mode of treason, in the wider sense in which the 
term is used here. Treason is conduct directly 
injurious to the community at large. 

For such conduct the severest reprobation is 
reserved, and the most terrible punishments inflicted. 
At a time when any injury of a private person, even 
up to murder, could be condoned by a pecuniary fine 
at a fixed tarifi", no mercy was ever shown to traitors ; 
and the punishments they incurred were grotesque 


in the elaborateness of their gruesome details. Such 
punishments are no longer inflicted ; but it would be 
a mistake to suppose, because attempts on the life of 
the sovereign are no longer punished capitally, that 
treason to the whole community is no longer resented. 
If actual attacks on the person of the sovereign are 
regarded with leniency, it is partly because of the 
greater strength of the humanitarian spirit, but 
mainly because the life of the sovereign is no longer 
of prime importance. Little mercy is shown to those 
whose action is calculated to injure the community 
seriously ; or to those who are supposed, however 
erroneously, even to sympathise with the common 
enemy. The old forms of treason, even if they were 
now practised, would no longer rouse the populace to 
fury. It would be diflacult, nowadays, to reproduce 
the madness of the Popish Plot, or even the panic of 
Chartism ; but the experience of the Dreyfus case, 
and of our own persecution of so-called pro-Boers, 
shows that the passionate abhorrence of what is 
regarded as treason, is as intense as ever. Even 
Napoleon Buonaparte, in his day, was scarcely 
more execrated than was President Kruger in ours. 
Technically, of course, neither Napoleon I. nor 
President Kruger was a traitor ; but the resentment 
against those who seek to injure the community, is 
much the same, whether they attack it from wdthin 
or from without. Spontaneous Patriotism — the love 
of our own community — is sufiicient to preserve most 
of us from treasonable conduct ; but if an additional 
motive is needed, it is furnished by the knowledge 
of the universal execration that we should incur. 

164 CONDUCT book h 

Patriotism is no longer subject to its former 
limitations. In most languages, the name for an 
enemy is derived from that of a stranger, or vice 
versa ; an indication of the strict limitation of our 
sympathies to those of our own community. With 
the spread of humanitarianism, and the freer inter- 
course among nations, our sympathies are widened ; 
and merely local patriotism tends to widen into 
benevolence towards the whole human race. This 
spread of benevolence has, however, its counterpart 
in the wider application of treason. We now witness 
conduct antagonistic, not merely to this or that 
sovereign or government, but generally to all 
governments, and all means of government. The 
anarchist is a traitor, not only to the community in 
which he lives, but to all civilised communities ; and 
is a caput lupinwni, open to attack by all. 

Disapproval is awarded, not only to direct, but to 
indirect attacks on the community — to any conduct 
that is calculated to weaken or impair its life- 
worthiness. This is the reason of the disapproval 
with which we regard innovators ; for, as will be 
shown in the next chapter, innovation is always a 
potential source of weakness in a community. 

Complementary to the disapproval and execration 
that are heaped upon traitors, are the approval and 
acclaim that are awarded to patriots. The most 
manifest service that can be rendered to a community 
by its component members, is to fight for it ; oppor- 
tunity for which is frequent enough in the long 
history of our race, whose normal state, until quite 
recent times, has been a state of war. The fighter 


has always been honoured ; and even at the present 
day, when humanitarianism has made such surprising 
advances, the man who conducts a successful war is 
immediately rewarded by a grateful nation with high 
rank and large fortune ; while the man who has saved 
a thousand lives for every one that the other has 
destroyed, is tardily rewarded with a low rank in the 
peerage, and no money at all. The fighter is always 
the most honoured person in the community ; and 
consequently, the practice of fighting, and the 
following of arms as a profession, are always cul- 
tivated, for the sake of the honour that attaches to 

The approbation with which fighting for the 
community is regarded, is bestowed, by anticipation 
of motive, on fighting for fighting's sake ; and the 
combative man is approved and honoured, while 
the meek are disapproved and despised; in spite of 
the great inheritance that they are to expect. 

Manifest services are rendered to the nation, not 
only by those who fight for it, but by those also who 
direct its policy and manage its internal affairs ; and 
when their management is such that the nation is 
benefited thereby, they receive their meed of 
approval. To secure this approval, many persons 
devote laborious lives to politics ; but it must be 
admitted that in this, as in other actions of the class 
now dealt with, the motives of the actors are mixed. 
The approval of his fellows is by no means the sole 
motive of the politician. He is actuated in part by 
ambition — by the desire to be esteemed and applauded 
— in part by the desire to be conspicuous, and the 

166 CONDUCT book n 

object of attention ; in part by the desire for power ; 
in some cases by the desire for pecuniary and other 
collateral advantages that attend the profession of 
politics ; and in part, it may be, by disinterested 
love of country, and desire to serve his fellow-men. 
In as far as his motive is believed to be the last, in 
so far is he approved and honoured by his fellow- 
countrymen ; and in as far as he is credited with 
other motives, this approval is withheld from 
him. The concurrence of so many motives, induces 
a large number of men to devote themselves to 
political life ; and the number would probably be 
larger, were it not that the approbation awarded to 
politicians is seldom unanimous. Inasmuch as he 
gratifies one section of the nation, he is apt to offend 
another ; and though he may receive much honour, 
he is likely to be the object of much execration also. 

In the complex constitution that society has now 
reached, it is inevitable that the immediate interests 
of sections and classes within the community should 
sometimes clash with one another ; and then we 
witness a reproduction of patriotic and antipatriotic 
conduct on a smaller scale. Each section or class 
will produce its special champions and opponents, 
who will incur approval, admiration, and liking from 
those whom they support ; disapproval and dislike 
from those whom they oppose. As in the larger 
community of the nation, the largest measure of 
execration will be reserved for the traitor — for him 
who opposes, or fails to support, the interests of his 
own immediate fellows. As the armed foe is respected, 
and even honoured, while the traitor to his nation 


is execrated, and killed without mercy ; so the 
employer is withstood with stubbornness, but without 
violence ; while the blackleg is hustled and assaulted. 
He who opposes the interests, real or supposed, of 
his own town or class, is regarded as a petty traitor ; 
and finds it hard to withstand the execration he 
incurs. An Irish landlord who should espouse the 
cause of the tenants, or an Irish tenant who should 
sympathise with the landlords, supposing such a 
monster to be possible, would have little reason 
to congratulate himself on his independence of action ; 
and the fact that no such lusus naturae has appeared, 
speaks, not merely for the sway of self-interest, 
but for the much stronger influence of the motives 
we are now considering ; for there has never been a 
righteous cause that has not inspired some men to 
subordinate their own interest to the rights of others ; 
but to incur the odium of their fellows, is a conse- 
quence that few are willing to face. 

Powerful as is the influence of the approval 
and disapproval of our fellows, on our conduct 
towards the community as a whole, and towards 
sections and classes of the community ; the widest 
sway of these motives is over our conduct towards 
our individual fellows. The reason why it is wrong 
to steal, to murder, to bear false witness, and 
generally, to allow our self - regarding action to 
injure our neighbours, is that such action is destruc- 
tive to the community. If such action became 
prevalent, the community would dissolve into 
segregated and antagonistic units. As self-regard- 
ing motives are intrinsically stronger than social- 


conservative motives, it is necessary to reinforce the 
latter by various extrinsic expedients, of which the dis- 
approbation, felt and displayed towards him who 
injures the community by selfish injury of others, 
is one of the most powerful. By the natural process 
already described ; by the action of natural selection, 
in weeding out both individuals and communities in 
which self-restraint in this respect is less developed, 
and allowing the survival of those in whom it is 
more developed ; the instinct of morality has now 
attained a certain fixation and potency ; but its 
fixation and potency are as yet far from complete. 
Spontaneous reluctance to injure others for our own 
self-interest, would, in very many cases, be insufficient 
to prevent such action, if the inner motive were not 
reinforced by the knowledge, that by so acting we 
should incur the reprobation of our fellows. Many 
a man whose honesty, many a woman whose chastity 
would not of itself be powerful enough to withstand 
temptation, is kept in the straight path by dread 
of the disgrace that would follow on a lapse from 
virtue. It is clear, however, that, in many cases, 
this motive must be inefficacious. Disapprobation 
will not be incurred unless the lapse from virtue is 
known ; and if it can be concealed, the motive does 
not come into operation. For this reason, the 
exigencies of social conservation have provided, in 
the inculcations of religion, an internal reinforcement 
of the moral instinct, that does not depend on 
publicity for its operation. This additional rein- 
forcement will be considered further on, under the 
head of religious conduct ; at present we need 


concern ourselves with the restraint of disapprobation 

Disapproval is felt towards all acts by which 
gratification is gained by the injury of other people, 
whatever the nature of those acts may be ; but disap- 
proval is not limited to acts of this class. We have 
seen that the first condition to the existence of a society, 
is the exercise of self-restraint on the part of its 
members, and the unrestrained activity of each in- 
dividual, even if that activity is in no wise antagon- 
istic to other individuals, is destructive of the society. 
As already pointed out, if all the members of a flock 
or herd move in diff"erent directions, the flock or herd 
is dispersed, and ceases to exist as an aggregate. 
Society, therefore, in self-protection, frowns upon lack 
of self-restraint, and approves of conduct that is self- 
restrained. We disapprove of undue self-indulgence, 
even though no one is injured by it. We reprobate 
the glutton, the drunkard, the slothful, the idle, the 
devotee of pleasure, even though they harm no one by 
their self-indulgence ; and contrarily, we approve the 
abstemious, the industrious, the continent, for the self- 
restraint that they exercise. When exaggerated into 
asceticism, self-restraint receives, in most communities, 
an additional meed of approval. 

There are occasions, however, on which the 
disapproval of the community, so far from being 
avoided, is deliberately incurred. Powerful as is 
the desire for the approval of others, and great as 
are the pains of knowing oneself disapproved, yet 
these are not paramount among motives, even among 
social motives. That they should yield to the 


urgency of the primary motives of self-conservation 
and reproduction, is not to be wondered at ; for these 
are motives of much greater antiquity, and take 
biological precedence. That urgency of want should 
lead men to steal ; and that urgency of love, or of 
cruder passion, should lead to unchastity ; are results 
that we observe with regret, but without wonder. 
They are easily explained, for the dread of general 
disapproval is, after all, but a secondary instinct ; 
and naturally yields to a primary one. But that 
this secondary instinct should be overcome by the 
desire of self-approbation, which is not only of later 
origin, but is actually derived from that which it 
conquers, appears paradoxical. The instinct to do 
what we believe to be right, merely because it is 
right, is, in other words, an instinctive desire for 
self-approval. We should disapprove ourselves if 
we acted otherwise, and our own disapproval is more 
than we can bear ; so we do what we believe to be 
right, even though, in so doing, we incur the dis- 
approval of others. The pain of self-disapproval is, 
to many, greater than the pain of the disapproval of 
others. Our notions of right and wrong arise in 
this way : — To primitive natures, to children, to 
the unthinking, to the uncultured, that is right, of 
which the general sentiment approves ; that is 
wrong, of which the general sentiment disapproves. 
Right is right because it is approved ; wrong is wrong 
because it is disapproved ; and no other standard of 
morality is known. But we are ourselves members 
of the community, and, as such, w^e appraise the 
conduct of others, and of ourselves, by the same 


standard. We grow up, that is, in the knowledge 
that some things are regarded as right, and others 
as wrong ; and we adopt towards them, whether 
done by ourselves or by others, the attitude of 
approval or disapproval that we find prevalent. 
Pending the approval or disapproval of others, which 
cannot be expressed until the act is done, we 
determine the rightness or wrongness of an act 
by the test of our own approval or disapproval of it. 
We thus appraise action, in order that our conduct 
may be such as shall be generally approved ; and 
the origin of our desire to secure our own approval, 
is the desire to secure the approval of others. By 
anticipation of motive, the further end is lost sight 
of; and in course of time, we act on the motive 
of securing our own approval, without regard to 
the approval of others. The proximate motive, 
which was originally but a means to a further end, 
is now become an end to be sought for its own sake. 

When men begin to think for themselves, they 
appraise anew the acts that they find the subjects 
of general approval and disapproval ; and they 
may adjudge certain acts that are generally approved, 
to be pernicious, or certain that are generally dis- 
approved, to be beneficial to the community ; and in 
this they may be correct or incorrect. For though, 
by the operation of natural selection, general approval 
goes to conduct that is beneficial to the community, 
and disapproval to conduct that is detrimental ; yet 
conduct that is beneficial in one may be injurious in 
another, and the benefit may be direct and manifest, 
while the injuriousness may be indirect and obscure, 


or vice versa. Moreover, a mode of conduct that is 
beneficial in one set of circumstances, or in one stage 
of society, may be harmful in another ; and the 
corresponding attitude of approval or disapproval 
may not alter in accordance with the alteration in 
the effect of the conduct. Whether the appraise- 
ment is correct or incorrect, it follows that, when a 
new appraisement is made, and does not agree with 
that which is prevalent, the standard of right and 
wrong of the appraiser will conflict with that of the 
community at large ; and, in doing what he thinks 
right, he will do what others think wrong. How he 
will act in such a case, will depend on whether the 
pain of self-disapproval is greater than the pain of 
the disapproval of others, plus the penalties that this 
disapproval carries with it. If it be, he will do what 
he thinks right, regardless of consequences ; if it be 
not, he will bow himself in the House of Rimmon. 
It is to the credit of human nature, that no new 
doctrine has ever lacked martyrs. 

Benefit and injury to the community are not the 
only determinants of the rightness and wrongness of 
conduct. Moral judgments of conduct depend on 
the eff"ect of the conduct on the preservation of the 
stirp also. By the same process of natural selection, 
by which approval and disapproval are brought into 
harmony with benefit and injury, respectively, to the 
community, they are brought into harmony with 
benefit and injury, respectively, to the stirp. In 
those communities in which conduct injurious to the 
stirp is approved, such conduct will be followed ; 
and the community will perish with the stirp. In 


those in which conduct beneficial to the stirp is dis- 
approved, such conduct will be followed ; and the 
stirp will not survive. Hence the reprobation with 
which the practice of procuring abortion is visited ; 
hence the disapproval with which religion, the 
peculiar guardian of the community, regards the 
limitation of families ; hence the encouragement that 
it gives to large families ; hence the general approval 
given by the Jews to the marriage with a brother's 
wife ; to the taking of a concubine to supplement the 
function of a barren wife ; hence the approval of 
parental and filial affection. The disapproval of 
immodesty and unchastity rests on grounds that are 
partly social, partly racial. 

The doctrine of morality that is here advanced, is 
not the conventional doctrine. The general notion 
is, I think, that we approve that which we believe to 
be right, because it is right ; and we disapprove that 
which is wrong, because it is wrong. I think there 
is confusion in this view. In my view, to approve a 
thing, and to adjudge it right, are the same ; or, 
if there is any difference, approval precedes the 
judgment, instead of following it, according to the 
current doctrine. We accept those things as right 
that are generally approved ; and many people never 
go beyond this stage. They accept the conventional 
morality that they find prevalent ; and then, though 
they approve what they believe to be right, they 
believe it to be right because they find it generally 
approved. In this case, the judgment of what is 
right rests on approval — the approval of others. If, 
however, a man quarrels with conventional morality. 


his difference must rest on one of two grounds. 
Either he looks to the social and racial consequences 
of conduct, and approves or condemns it as, socially 
or racially, advantageous or injurious; or he refers 
to what he considers is the attitude of the Deity, 
and makes his approval or disapproval coincide with 
what he believes to be the approval or disapproval of 
God. In the first case, he adopts, without explicitly 
acknowledging that he does so, the code of ethics 
that is here stated. In the second case, he rests his 
belief of what is divinely approved or disapproved, 
either on authority, or on his own inspiration, or, 
what is for the present purpose equivalent, his own 
interpretation of the inspired sayings of others ; but 
in any case, right rests on approval, wrong on dis- 
approval. If he rests his belief on authority, the 
same authority usually dictates the common standard ; 
and his morality is the prevalent and conventional 
morality. If he rests his belief on his own inspira- 
tion, or his own interpretation of the inspired sayings 
of others ; his morality is usually bizarre, and is apt 
to coincide with self-interest, or class-interest. In 
any case, the ultimate test of the morality of conduct, 
by which it must stand or fall, by which its eventual 
adoption or rejection must be determined, is social 
and racial advantage. That conduct which is found 
by experience to be socially or racially advantageous, 
will at length gain general approval, and prevail ; 
and that which is found by experience to be socially 
or racially disadvantageous, will meet with general 
disapproval, and will die out. The true reason for 
the approval or disapproval will not usually be 


assigned : may not even be known. The disadvan- 
tageous conduct will be felt to be wrong, without 
reason assigned. It will become distasteful. Men's 
gorge will rise against it, as it rose against human 
sacrifices, against torture, against the persecutions of 
the Inquisition, against prosecution for witchcraft, 
against the sweating of the labour of children. When 
we say that we feel instinctively that such or such 
conduct is wrong, we cannot say why ; we express an 
inarticulate appreciation, felt deep down in our nature, 
that the conduct we so stigmatise is socially or 
racially disadvantageous ; and if it were to prevail, 
would tend to the destruction of the community, or 
the extirpation of the race. If this antagonism to 
what is socially and racially disadvantageous does 
not become the prevalent code of morality, then the 
community will perish ; the race will be extirpated ; 
and the code of morality will perish with the race it 
has destroyed. 

The influence on conduct of the disapproval of 
others, appears, in many instances, to be defective. 
Many persons — hardened criminals — appear callous 
to reprobation, and indiff"erent though all men abhor 
them. But all men do not abhor them. Each of 
them has his own small circle of comrades, by whom 
he is at least admired, if not even approved. The 
more such criminals bring upon themselves the 
general reprobation of the community at large, the 
more they are admired, the more they may even be 
approved, by their own immediate social circle. 
These are the people with whom the criminal is in 


contact ; whose estimation he values, and whose 
approval or disapproval carries weight with him. 
The rest of the world are, to him, foreigners. He 
does not recognise their standards ; or admit the 
jurisdiction of their opinion. They are not only- 
foreigners, but foreigners with whom he is at war. 
To court their approval would be treachery to the 
small community, to whose approval and disapproval 
he is amenable, and attaches weight. ' Honour 
amongst thieves ' is an adage of very ancient 
pedigree. It means that he who joins the furtive 
community must adopt furtive standards. He must 
subject his conduct to the approval or disapproval of 
the community he has entered ; and must abide by 
the result. To refuse to adopt the standard of this 
community, and to order his conduct without regard 
to its approval or disapproval, would render him 
altogether an outlaw ; and this is a fate that no man 
has the hardihood to face. The defect of the 
acknowledged criminal is not that he is impervious 
to the motives, of seeking approbation and avoiding 
its reverse ; but that the approval that he seeks, 
and the disapproval that he tries to avoid, are not 
those of society at large, which are adapted to its 
own welfare and maintenance ; but of a small 
community, parasitic on society, in which morality, 
as far as it exists, is different from that of society 
at large. It is for this reason that the furtive 
community is so unstable. No gang of thieves, no 
horde of bandits, hangs long together. If society 
does not exterminate it, it falls to pieces ; for it is 
built on the sand of disloyalty. No band of brigands 


has had a loug existence ; and those that have lived 
longest, have owed their longevity to the adoption of 
correct social methods, and an adherence to some, at 
least, of the principles of morality. They have been 
faithful to each other ; have cherished the weak ; fed 
the hungry; and, however raptorial their conduct 
to the community at large, have observed honesty in 
their dealings with each other. 

Many pretend indifference to the disapproval of 
their fellows ; but, except the martyr, who is 
sustained by a sense of rectitude derived otherwise 
than directly from observing what the community 
approves, it is doubtful whether the indifference is 
sincere. In insanity, however, with the decay of 
other faculties, this also is weakened, and at last 
destroyed. We are not surprised to find demented 
persons, whose minds are reduced to a low level, lost 
as much to the appreciation of disapproval, as to that 
of other circumstances. Those who are indifferent to 
hunger and thirst, heat and cold, and have not even 
enough intelligence to dress themselves, can scarcely 
be expected to appreciate the approval or disapproval 
of others ; and accordingly, we find that their 
conduct is often bestial, and they cannot be made to 
appreciate its bestiality. But these are not the only 
insane who fail in the appreciation of right and 
wrong. There are not a few who retain a fair, and 
even a considerable degree of intelligence, but who 
are shamelessly filthy and immoral ; indifferent to 
the unanimous disapproval of their fellows ; and 
treat all expressions of disgust with callousness and 
levity. Such persons are often guilty of the vilest 


178 CONDUCT bookh 

outrages on others. One will spit in bis neighbour's 
plate ; another will make an unprovoked attack upon 
him, or pour on him the foulest abuse and obscenity ; 
a third will be guilty of revolting indecency ; but no 
expression of disapproval puts them to shame, no 
subsequent reflection brings -er se. They are 
utterly callous, and cannot be t to appreciate 

the heinousness of their co^ ''ui.'j^s jd.ji 

Lastly, there is a ar^ ..jitil ' I persons who are 
otherwise normal in mioid ■ '■■tis d to be incapable 
of appreciating the righ.ju ^gness of acts, 

or of being influenced b}' , app^.. bation or dis- 
approbation of others. To admiration and contempt, 
they often show exaggerated sensitiveness ; but to 
approbation and reprobation thf_^^ are callous. Such 
persons, whom I term moral imbeciles, must not be 
confused with another class of immoral persons, who 
recognise quite well the distinctior between right and 
wrong conduct, but yet incur disapproval and punish- 
ment for wrong-doing, without beinjr able, so it appears, 
to reform their ways. Both clasE 3S do criminal acts 
from a very early age. The moral imbecile continues 
to act criminally for the rest of his life. Punishment 
embitters and exasperates him, but has not the least 
reforming influence. He has no self-disapproval for 
his wrongful acts ; and looks on punishment for them 
as unjust persecution. He does not acknowledge — 
it seems never to occur to him — that other people 
are to be considered, or that their welfare should 
stand in the way of his own gratification. As Bacon 
says, he would burn down another man's house to 
roast his own eggs. He is irreformable and irre- 


claimable. The criminal propensities of such persons 
show themselves at a very early age. As soon as 
other children would begin to recognise and conform 
to moral teaching, it is discovered that these children 
are incapable of moral education. They begin to 
steal before th " ar*" breeched, and continue to steal 
for the rest of ^es. There is, however, another 

class of immo: LrP''"» distinct from that which 

has been desc ind ^uch more amenable to 

reform. These lit. « know and appreciate quite 
well that, w^ e stealing, they are doing 

wrong ; but t-.ey hu jt sufficient self-restraint to 
withstand temptation. Whatever they see that is 
desirable, they take to their own use, even at the 
cost of prompt an^ severe and certain punishment. 
Persons of both kinds will steal with little attempt 
at concealment ; and the same person who, at one 
time, will steal with elaborate precautions, will 
steal, at another, with barefaced impudence. A 
peculiarity often, but not necessarily, found in the 
second class, and absent in the first, is that their 
V oredations are, ' in many cases, restricted to one 
Class of object. Some children steal chocolates, and 
chocolates only. Some adults steal fans only, or 
single boots, or spoons, or what not — often things 
that are of no use, certainly of no use in the numbers 
they accumulate. Some steal, merely, as it appears, 
from the itch of stealing, and from no strong desire 
of possession ; for they will give away the stolen 
object to the first comer — perhaps to a beggar in the 
street. Children who exhibit this second mode of 
immorality are incorrigible as children, and some- 


times remain incorrigible to adult life ; but in many 
cases — in the majority of cases — their evil propensities 
drop from them as they emerge from childhood. 

Hyper-conscientiousness is a conspicuous feature 
in many cases of insanity. There are many insane 
persons who live in the miserable conviction that 
their most innocent acts are wrong. Their whole 
past lives meet with their own disapproval, and 
they disapprove profoundly of everything they 
do in the present. In many cases, in order to 
account for their reprobation of themselves, they 
imagine immoral acts that they deludedly believe 
they have committed ; and accuse themselves of 
crimes and wrongful doings, of which they are com- 
pletely innocent. They are afraid to do the most 
innocent acts for fear they may be wrong ; and in 
some cases are convinced that such acts as even 
taking food, ought to be abstained from. 




The desire to be liked, and to avoid being disliked, 
by others, is of less cogency than the desire to be 
admired or to be approved ; but still, it is a motive 
of considerable force ; and, though usually accom- 
panying one or both the others in practice, is not 
always so accompanied, and is separable on analysis. 
Other things being equal, we like those who give 
us pleasure ; and we dislike those who give us pain. 
The main source of pleasure is the successful pursuit 
of ends ; pain is given by every experience that 
interferes with the successful pursuit of ends ; hence, 
liking can always be traced, more or less directly, 
to aid, dislike to opposition, offered to us by the 
person liked or disliked. Our friends are those who 
aid us, or show a disposition to aid us : our enemies 
are those who oppose us, or exhibit a spirit of 

As has been said, the desires to be approved, 
admired, and liked, often prompt to the same acts ; 
and it is not always easy, even for the actor himself, 


182 CONDUCT book n 

to distinguish the motive that was most concerned. 
In the class of acts that induce liking on the part 
of others, there is an additional difficulty ; since 
many acts that bring upon us the liking or disliking 
of others, are undertaken from quite different motives, 
and bring this result as a by-product, of which we 
take no account in undertaking the act. Most of 
the acts, by which we aid and assist other people 
to attain their ends, are undertaken because we, 
too, desire those ends ; and, in helping others, we 
are forwarding our own interests. Many more are 
undertaken from pure benevolence ; and in either 
case, the fact that the aid we give to others tends 
to make them like us, does not enter largely as a 
motive in the act. Most of the acts by which we 
oppose the ends of other people, and place obstacles 
in their way, are done because we disapprove the 
ends they seek, and certainly with no intention of 
incurring their dislike. Certain conduct is, however, 
undertaken for the sole purpose of gaining the liking 
of others ; and in opposing their efforts, we are usually 
prompted, by this motive, to frame our opposition 
so as to avoid being disliked for it, or to reduce the 
inevitable dislike to a minimum. 

We like those who give us pleasure, and pleasure 
arises from the successful pursuit of ends ; but this 
is not the only source of pleasure. We are pleased 
also when we have the consciousness that success is 
likely ; and generally, when we feel capable. The 
pleasure of health is the pleasure of capability. We 
find pleasure in all skilful exercise of faculty, not 
only for the success that attends the particular act, 


but from the conviction it gives us of general capa- 
bility — of the likelihood that we shall be successful 
in other things. Anything, in short, that exalts 
our own opinion of our own powers, is a source of 
pleasure ; and such exaltation, of our opinion of our 
powers in general, is even a greater source of satis- 
faction than success in any particular instance. 
Hence our liking for those who give us a good 
opinion of ourselves. We like those who recognise 
our abilities, or discern any good quality in us ; we 
like those from whom we receive praise, deference, 
and appreciation, even more than those from whom 
we receive actual assistance. Praise, deference, and 
appreciation may be awarded to the display of 
laudable qualities, because they are extorted by 
genuine admiration, and thus do not come into the 
class of acts now considered ; but in as far as they 
are not genuine, or are exaggerated, they are given 
for a return in liking ; and in many cases, even when 
thoroughly deserved, and not exaggerated, they are 
paid in part only as genuine appreciation, in part 
in order to secure liking in return. 

In order to achieve our ends, it is necessary that 
we should have liberty of action ; and those who 
infringe this liberty, incur our dislike ; while those 
who leave us a free field for endeavour, are liked for 
doing so. As has been so often asserted, society 
exists by virtue of the limitation of action of its 
members, so as to leave to others freedom within 
equal limits. Those who encroach upon what we 
regard as our own legitimate and peculiar field of 
action, are disliked ; and those who restrain them- 


selves, and allow us freedom of action without the 
need of self-assertion, are liked for the pleasure they 
afford. In small matters of daily intercourse, the 
self-restraint that refuses to encroach on the liberty 
of others ; the aid that is given in petty matters ; 
retiring so as to allow even more liberty to others 
than could strictly be claimed ; are called good 
manners ; and good manners are assumed, partly 
from pure benevolence, and then they are best 
manners, and constitute the natural gentleman ; but 
more often from the desire to be liked, and to avoid 
being disliked ; and this desire they fulfil. 

In common with other animals, man is imitative, 
and the influence of imitation on conduct as a whole, 
will be dealt with presently ; but it falls to be noticed 
here that, in consequence of his innate tendency to 
imitate, he is apt to take on the mood of those with 
whom he associates. There are times when all com- 
municate hopefulness to each other, and then credit 
is good ; there are other times when all diffuse 
pessimism, and credit is bad. The brave man in- 
spires courage in his companions ; the panic-stricken 
is apt to breed panic in others. Amongst other 
qualities, cheerfulness and happiness are communi- 
cable. In the presence of the cheerful, our spirits are 
raised ; in the presence of misery, we are apt to be 
depressed. Since the mere presence of cheerfulness 
and high spirits gives us pleasure, we like those who 
exhibit these qualities ; and, in spite of ourselves, 
we cannot help a certain distaste for the society 
of the miserable. It is a consciousness of these 
eff'ects that makes us assume cheerfulness in the 


presence of others. If we feel miserable, we do 
not parade our misery. We put a good face on 
our misfortunes, and, in this respect also, modify 
our conduct in order to avoid incurring the dislike 
of our fellows. 

There are some happily constituted people, who 
exhibit a combination of cheerfulness, good manners, 
and a demeanour which carries to others the convic- 
tion that they are liked, that together constitute a 
charm of manner, that renders them universally and 
greatly liked. Charm of manner is notoriously diffi- 
cult to analyse and explain ; but I think it will 
be found to be composed of the ingredients I have 

Defect of the desire to be liked, and to avoid 
dislike, is not frequent ; but it is not unknown. 
Those, and they are not few, who delight to ' score ' 
off other people, to exercise their wit in malicious 
sayings, are not by any means necessarily insensible 
to the pleasure of being liked ; but either they do 
not realise the dislike they incur, or they are unable 
to sacrifice the triumph of the moment to the more 
enduring pleasure of avoiding ill-will. There are, 
however, a few people who seem to enjoy giving 
pain by saying and doing ill-natured things, especi- 
ally to those who cannot retaliate ; and this petty 
tyranny finds its gratification in the display of power 
at the expense of incurring dislike. Defect of less 
degree is seen in those who pursue their ends in 
opposition to the endeavour of others, without 
attempts at conciliation, and even with unnecessary 
offensiveness. Such people, however successful they 



may be, provide their own nemesis in widespread 
dislike, which does not fail, sooner or later, to raise 
difficulties that they need never have had to sur- 

Excessive sensitiveness to the dislike of others is 
not very infrequent. There are people whose fear 
of giving ofience is raised to such a pitch, that it 
seriously interferes with their endeavours ; and leads 
them to forgo ends that they might legitimately 
seek to attain, and to suffer uneasiness that is quite 
uncalled for. They live in dread of offending people, 
and interpret the most innocent acts as signs of 
dislike. Such people are seriously handicapped in 
the struggle for life. 

Perversion of this form of conduct is by no means 
unknown. It is not very rare for a blunderer to seek 
to ingratiate himself by means that make him dis- 
liked rather than liked ; and the gift of a white 
elephant does not always elicit the gratitude that 
is expected. That fine sense of appropriateness, that 
chooses unerringly the mode of action that will most 
arouse liking, and give the least offence, is termed 
' tact ' ; and in tact, many people are conspicuously 


Leading and Subordination 

This is a well characterised and admitted deter- 
minant of conduct. Among the many ways in 
which men may be classified ; among the ways in 


which we do, for practical purposes, classify the men 
and women we meet ; none is more important than 
that according to force of character ; a phrase not 
very easy to define with strictness, perhaps because 
we do not attach to it any very well-defined meaning; 
but a phrase that, whatever else it includes, means 
a power of resisting the wills of others, and of im- 
pressing on others the will, so as to induce them to 
act in accordance with it. Such force of character 
goes with steadfastness of purpose ; but it is by no 
means the same as steadfastness of purpose. There 
are many who are capable of adhering with steady 
tenacity to a single purpose, so long as they are not 
interfered with by others of greater force of character 
than themselves ; but who find themselves incapable 
of resisting a diversion from the purpose, if this inter- 
ference is forthcoming. Nothing is more difiicult 
than to explain how this force of character is 
exercised, or wherein resides the power of impressing 
the will upon others. It is exercised, of course, by 
physical expression ; but not by emphasis in ex- 
pression. It is not the shouting dogmatist who com- 
pels, by force of character, conformity with his will. 
It is not persuasion. The result is not produced by 
appeal to the reason, or by working on the emotions. 
It is not altogether fear of the consequences of non- 
compliance — of incurring anger or resentment. It is 
that, in the presence of the man of strong character, 
the man of weak character is overcrowed ; and finds 
it impossible to insist upon his own will and his own 
way. Force of character goes, no doubt, with courage, 
and weakness of character may go with lack of courage; 


but superior courage does not yield a full explanation ; 
and General Baynes is very far from being the only 
man who has proved his courage, even to the point 
of heroism, on the field of battle ; and yet has suc- 
cumbed with humility to a domestic tyrant. It is 
will that prevails. The strong will prevails over the 
weaker, even though the weaker will may go with 
the finer intellect ; and the person who carries out 
the will of another against his own conviction, may 
know in his heart that his own course is best. But 
in spite of this knowledge, he yields. He gives way 
to the stronger personality. 

Neither force of character, nor its defect, is 
associated with any particular physique. Each is 
found in the physically strong and the physically 
puny ; with giant stature and diminutive size. There 
is, indeed, a certain physiognomy which gives in- 
formation to the observer. Firmness and tone in the 
facial muscles, and a steady eye, speak as eloquently 
of strong character, as flabbiness of expression and a 
wandering gaze do of one that is weak. 

Of force of character, every possible shade and 
grade is exhibited by difi"erent people ; but some are 
so conspicuously deficient as to attract attention by 
their defect, which brings them under the domination 
of almost any one who chooses to exert domination 
over them ; and to these the title of ' Facile ' is given 
in Scotch law. The facile person is a person who has 
' no will of his own.' Often he feels his own in- 
firmity, mistrusts his own judgment, and alters his 
conduct every time fresh advice is given to him. 
Often he places himself, or falls, under the dominance 


of some one person of greater force of character ; and, 
if that person is not disinterested, may suffer severely 
by doing so. By Scotch law, facile persons may be 
sequestered from the management of their property, 
which is placed under the care of a guardian. English 
law, with its characteristic reluctance to interfere 
with the liberty of the subject, allows the facile 
person to be stripped of his property by adventurers 
with stronger wills than his own ; but it generously 
allows him to bring actions against his despoilers, 
and to recover as much of his property as may be 
left, provided he can prove that he was moved to 
part with it by undue influence. 

There can scarcely be excess in force of character. 
The stronger a man's character, the more certain is 
he, caeteris paribus, to make a success of his life. 
Men of great force of character, and they alone, attain 
great success, become leaders of men, and occupy 
influential positions in the world. Whatever his ex- 
ternal and adventitious advantages, the weak man 
goes to the wall, and yields place to the strong. 
In every assembly and combination of men ; in 
every legislature, or club, or committee, or associ- 
ation for work or play ; some one or two men 
of strongest character come to the front, and lead ; 
the rest are compelled, more or less contentedly, to 

Men of strong character are often termed obstinate ; 
but obstinacy and force of character, though they 
often go together, are not the same thing. Just as 
an aggressive demeanour is often adopted by the shy 
man to conceal his shyness ; so a weak man often 


exhibits obstinacy to conceal his weakness. A 
man may be obstinate as a mule, without having 
that power of impressing his will on others, which 
is the distinguishing mark of the man of strong 



Custom and Fashion 

We have seen that, for the maintenance of social life, 
it is necessary that the conduct of each individual 
should conform with the conduct of the rest. If a 
flock or a herd, or a pack, is to remain a flock, or a 
herd, or a pack, its members must all move together, 
in the same direction, and at the same rate. If some 
remain at rest, while others go on, the community is 
disintegrated. If some go north, while others go 
south, east, and west, the community is disintegrated. 
If some gallop, while others trot, and others walk, 
the community will be disintegrated ; and, as a 
community, will cease to exist. For a community 
to continue in existence, it is necessary that its 
members should act alike — that the action of each 
should conform with the action of all. 

If some of the members of a tribe fraternise with 
a neighbouring tribe, while other members attack it ; 
the tribe will be divided against itself, will be split 
into factions, and disintegrated ; and if, without 
action for and against its neighbours, some members 


192 CONDUCT book n 

of the tribe are favourably disposed towards them, 
while others are hostile; though there may be no actual 
disintegration, there is incipient disintegration. The 
bonds of union of the tribe are slackened. It is no 
longer as firmly united. An action is begun, which, 
if it proceeds, will result in actual disintegration. 
Any influence, therefore, which tends to prevent 
difference of opinion, and diff'erence of inclination, 
among the members of the tribe, helps to preserve 
the tribe ; and for this reason, those tribes in which 
difference of opinion, and diff'erence of inclination, are 
frowned upon, discountenanced, and disapproved, will, 
caeteris paribus, prevail against those in which such 
diff'erences are tolerated. Nor let it be thought that 
it is only differences of opinion with respect to who 
are to be fought and who are to be welcomed, that 
is important to the integrity of a society. All 
differences of opinion, indicating, as they do, tenden- 
cies to diff'erences of action, are disintegrative. As 
long as all the members of a community hold the 
same religious belief, for instance, this common 
opinion forms a bond of union between them ; hold- 
ing them together, not only in unison of opinion 
and thought, but in physical propinquity. If the 
community becomes divided into sects, holding 
different tenets, and practising diff"erent ceremonials, 
not only is there a difference in mind, but this differ- 
ence soon tends to physical disintegration. The 
members of the new sect hold together, and, in as 
far as their mutual bondsl are strong, their bonds to 
the rest of the community are weakened. They 
associate together more, and associate less with the 


rest of the community ; they intermarry among 
themselves, and look askance upon mixed marriages ; 
they favour their co-religionists in business ; they 
regard themselves, and are regarded, as apart from 
the rest of the community ; and not infrequently 
they are thrust out of it, as in the case of the Hugue- 
nots ; or they leave it, as in the case of the Pilgrim 
Fathers ; or they are exterminated, as in the case of 
the Albigenses. Hence we find that, in every com- 
munity, conformity, not only of the conduct, but 
of the opinion, of each, with the conduct and opinion 
of the rest, is regarded with approval ; and conduct 
and opinion that do not conform to the common 
standard, meet with strong reprobation, and what is 
more, with vigorous suppression. Hence, too, we 
find, strongly implanted among the instincts of every 
member of the community, is the instinct to conform, 
to do as others do, to fall in with the prevailing mode 
of action. To be singular is to incur the disapproval, 
not only of others, but of ourselves. Each member 
of a community has a natural and instinctive repulsion 
against outraging convention. He desires to do as 
others do, not merely to escape the disapprobation 
of others that non-conformity incurs, but because 
non-conformity is inherently distasteful to him. 
This instinctive repulsion has its origin in social 
need, and in the operation of natural selection. 

Conformity is, of course, imitation of the example 
of others ; but there is a clear distinction between 
conformity and imitation. The child's action in 
learning to write is imitative, but it is not con- 
forming. The child imitates the writing it is told 


to copy ; but he does so, not because every one else 
writes, and he is unwilling to be singular. He learns 
to write because he is told to learn. Nor is the 
motive of his parents and teachers the desire of 
conformity, at any rate in origin. The child is 
taught to write, not because illiteracy is singular, but 
because writing is useful. So the artisan, in learning 
his trade, imitates the action of his seniors, and learns 
by imitation to do the work thus and so ; not because 
it is the fashion to do it thus and so, but because 
thus and so it can be most effectively done. In 
short, conforming action is necessarily imitative, but 
imitative action is not necessarily conforming. The 
early disciples of every new prophet, in every depart- 
ment of life — in art, in literature, in manufacture, 
in professions, in social experiments, and what not — 
are imitative of their prophet ; but they are non- 
conforming to the great body of the community. 

The influence of the instinct of conformity is seen 
in every department of life ; from the games of 
children, to the fundamental doctrines and practices 
of religion ; from the decoration of a dinner-table, to 
the ceremonial of a coronation ; from the first cloth- 
ing of the new-born babe, to the cerements of the 

Conformity is of two diff'erent kinds, or is 
exhibited in two different ways — simultaneous and 
successive. When each person does what every one 
else is doing, his conformity is simultaneous, and he 
is said to follow the fashion ; when he does what has 
always been done, his conformity is successive, and 
he is said to follow custom. Following fashion is 



based on imitation ; following custom is based on 
habit : both are modes of conformity. 

Again, conformity may be intended or unintended. 
We may follow the fashion, or adhere to custom, in- 
tentionally, knowing and avowing that we do so 
for that reason ; or we may do either unintentionally, 
believing that we do so from some other motive, but 
in fact prompted by the instinct of conformity. In 
following fashion, we usually do so intentionally, 
knowing that we do so, in order to conform with 
what others are doing. In adhering to custom, we 
usually act with no such intention ; and in full faith 
ascribe our action to some other motive. The rules 
are by no means invariable ; but they hold good over 
a large range of conduct. 

We are accustomed to think of fashion as change- 
able ; but fashion is not necessarily changeable. 
Fashion is that conduct, whether changeable or 
continuous, to which all conform at the same time. 
Thus, a fashion, if it endures, becomes a custom ; and 
a custom, so long as it endures, is a fashion ; but, 
while continuity is the essence of custom, fashion is 
independent of continuity or change. The difference 
between fashion and custom is a difference of motive. 
Fashion is followed because it is now generally 
followed ; custom is followed because it has been 
generally followed in the past. 

Fashion is not necessarily changeable. Very 
many fashions are, it is true, notoriously short-lived ; 
but even fashions in dress, which are, perhaps, the 
shortest-lived of all, are not necessarily short-lived. 
In many countries, the fashion in dress remains the 


same for many generations ; and in certain respects 
it remains for long periods the same in all countries. 
In such cases, fashion merges into custom. In 
Western Europe the fashion in dress for women is 
to wear skirts ; and this fashion has been a custom 
for many generations ; but as it is now followed by 
each, not because it has been the custom for many 
generations, but because every one else now follows 
it. It is followed as a fashion, and not as a custom. 

A fashion is that which is generally done ; but the 
converse is not true. That which every one does is 
not necessarily a fashion. Every one eats and 
drinks ; but no one eats and drinks because every one 
else does so. The manner and time of eating and 
drinking are, however, largely matters of fashion. 
Every one in the same social position, eats at the 
same time, of much about the same number of 
courses, served in very much the same way, on 
tables with the same class of furniture and decora- 
tion. Some of these things are done by all, because 
all find them equally convenient or pleasant ; but 
most of them are done by each, because they are 
done generally — for the sake of conformity, or to 
be in the fashion. 

It is natural to suppose, on a priori grounds, that 
the influence of fashion and custom would be most 
conspicuous in those modes of activity that I call 
unremunerative, or indirectly vital ; that is to say 
in recreation, in aesthetics, in ceremonial, and in 
religion ; and would scarcely be perceptible in such 
vital concerns as marital and parental conduct, self- 
conservative and social conduct, on which the welfare. 


and the very existence, of the race depend. It would 
seem that, in matters of vital importance, it would 
be very unsafe to regulate our conduct merely 
by fashion or custom, and that one should be 
guided by some more rational and safer principle. 
In fact, however, we find that, although the sway 
of fashion and custom is very powerful among the 
indirectly vital modes of conduct, their influence, so 
far from being confined to these modes, extends with 
equal, and even greater tyranny, to conduct of the 
most vital importance. Fashion is paramount in 
matter of adornment, whether of the person, the 
house, the garden or the implements of life. In our 
dress ; in the colours and patterns of carpets, and 
curtains, and wall-papers ; in the shapes and materials 
of all the ornaments, of person, table, and house ; in 
the arrangements of our gardens ; in the very shapes 
of our houses ; in games, sports, and recreations of 
all kinds ; we follow fashion with slavish devotion. 
It is true that, in the matter of adornment, we think 
we are pursuing beauty for its own sake ; and that 
we adopt certain methods of ornamentation because 
they are intrinsically beautiful ; but in fact,' the great 
majority of us think those things beautiful which are 
generally agreed to be beautiful. We follow the 
fashion, and imagine we are prompted by another 
motive. It is the same with games and recreations. 
In every school there is a season for marbles and a 
season for peg-top. First one game, and then 
another becomes the fashion, and is followed by each 
because it is followed by all ; and the parents of the 
schoolboys are similarly swayed. People play those 


games that they fiud other people playing ; and 
although several other motives enter into the decision, 
the main reason why each person now plays bridge 
who formerly played whist, is that he finds other 
people playing bridge, and conforms to the fashion. 
A few years ago, every one bicycled, those who liked 
it and those who did not, but bicycled because other 
people bicycled. Now we all play golf; and for the 
same reasons. 

Powerful as is the influence of fashion in non- vital 
modes of conduct, the influence of custom in the 
vital modes is scarcely less important. Custom 
dictates with imperious edict the class from which 
the marital partner is to be sought. In primitive 
communities, custom compels that marriage must be 
endogenous or exogenous, as the case may be ; and 
in more advanced communities, custom forbids 
marriage into another race, or even into another 
social class. The white may not marry the black, 
whether the black is Hamitic or Aryan. A member 
of the royal family may not marry outside of royal 
families. Mesalliances of all kinds are forbidden 
by custom ; and if greater laxity seems to have 
been allowed of late years, it is not because custom is 
less tyrannous, but because boundaries between classes 
are breaking down. Nor is marital conduct the only 
form of vital conduct that is dictated by custom. 
The mode of earning the livelihood is similarly 
prescribed. In this country, the barriers are breaking 
down between the landed class and the professional 
class ; between the professional class and the trad- 
ing class ; between the trading class and the artisan 

CHAP. XI ri 


class ; between the artisan class and the labouring 
class ; but it was only yesterday that they became 
passable ; and even now, though transition from one 
class to the next is permitted, transition from any 
class to the next but one is forbidden by custom. 
A member of the professional class may not become 
an artisan ; nor a shopkeeper's son a labourer ; and 
vice versa. In other communities the prohibition is 
far more rigid. The Hindu is forbidden, not only 
to marry outside his caste, but to adopt any occupa- 
tion but that into which he is born. 

In many matters of social conduct also, the sway 
of custom is paramount. As has been shown, the 
root of morality is in social advantage ; but we do 
not approve acts because we recognise them to be 
socially advantageous, nor is social disadvantage the 
reason that we avow for disapproving acts that we 
consider immoral. In these matters, we are guided 
very largely by custom. It is custom, and custom 
alone, that sanctions the practice of suttee. Custom 
accounts for the reverence and admiration with which 
a monarch of very moderate intelligence, and very 
questionable morality, such as George IV. or William 
IV., is regarded. Custom prescribes that the mode 
of inflicting capital punishment in England shall be 
hanging, in France the guillotine, in Spain the 
garrotte. Custom prescribes the swaddling clothes of 
the infant, the veil of the bride, the posture of the 
lying-in woman, the cerements of the dead, and the 
disposal of the corpse. Here the bodies of the dead 
are buried, there they are burnt ; in this place they 
are exposed to be eaten by the fowls of the air, in 

200 CONDUCT book n 

that, they are mummified and preserved ; in a third 
they are eaten by the survivors ; and in each case 
the treatment of the dead is determined by custom. 

The enormous importance of custom will be 
recognised, when it is remembered that it is to 
custom that law owes its origin. In early stages of 
society, custom and law are identical ; and even in 
the advanced stage of society that we now see, not 
only is much law founded on custom, and little more 
than elaborated custom ; but much custom has the 
sanction of penalties that, though not formally 
legal, yet partake of the nature of law, in being 
enforced by general approval ; and, in some cases, 
by Courts that are outside the law, and yet are 
imitations of Courts of Law, and adopt some of the 
methods, and much of the formality of Courts of 

The common law, which has jurisdiction over 
almost the whole of the English-speaking race, owes 
its origin entirely to custom. It is the embodiment 
of the custom that existed in the primitive Germanic 
tribes from which our race is sprung ; elaborated and 
modified from time to time, to bring it into harmony 
with successive states of society, Koman law is the 
embodiment and elaboration of Latin custom ; and 
even the statute law, which has been created to 
supply the deficiencies, which the increasing com- 
plexity and the advancing humanity of society 
discover in the common law, — even the statute law 
is interpreted by rules which owe their origin to 
custom. So Ijinding is the force of custom, so 
paramount its influence in law, that the plain words 


of a statute are often overridden by custom, which 
requires them to be interpreted in a sense foreign to 
their apparent meaning. 

This is not the only respect in which law is power- 
less against the force of custom. The killing of a 
man in a duel is murder in law, and was murder for 
many generations in which the law could not be en- 
forced ; for custom was too strong for law. In 
Germany, where as here, murder is murder in the eye 
of the law, custom not only sanctions duelling, but 
makes it in some cases compulsory ; and in the face 
of this custom, law is powerless. 

When we speak of fashion, we are apt to think 
only of dress and adornment ; but fashion has a 
potent influence on conduct in many other matters. 
Wherever two or three are gathered together in one 
place, each will tend to do as the rest are doing ; 
and if we add to the imitative instinct, the other 
instinct, already considered, which impels us to seek 
the applause of our fellows, we shall understand why 
it is that the conduct of crowds is often outrageous. 
Each strives to follow the fashion, and do what the 
others are doing ; and beyond this, each seeks to 
outdo the others, and so gain applause. When 
many are seeking to outdo each other in a particular 
mode of conduct, exaggeration of that mode of 
conduct is a natural consequence. The influence of 
all upon each has some proportion to the number 
of the * all.' A sturdy individuality of character, 
that can hold out, and pursue its own way, un- 
influenced by the contrary example of a few, finds 
more and more difliculty in maintaining independence 


of action, as the number of examples to the contrary 
is increased. Hence, caeteris paribus, the larger the 
crowd, the more unanimous it is, provided it is not 
too large for rapid communication between all its 
parts. Wherever there is a crowd, there is something 
that brings the crowd together. Usually it is met 
together under the influence of some common emotion 
or desire ; and a way of expressing this emotion or 
desire occurs to one, or perhaps to several, and 
rapidly spreads to the rest. When each finds all 
around, him acting in a certain way, and especially 
when each desires the same end, the impulsion is 
almost irresistible to act as the others are acting, in 
order to attain that end ; and more, to outdo the 
rest in that mode of action. When each strives to 
outdo the rest, action easily becomes outrageous. 
Even if one of the crowd discerns what seems to 
him a better way of attaining the common end, his 
own judgment, unless he is a person of unusually 
strong character, is subordinated to the judgment 
of the rest. He thinks he must be wrong, and the 
others right ; or, even if he continues of his own 
opinion, he is overborne in action, and impelled to 
follow the fashion of the moment. Hence, the 
members of a crowd will do, as members of a crowd, 
acts that no one of them would do singly ; and 
corporate action is almost always less reasonable, 
and usually less moral, than individual action in 
similar circumstances. This is generally recognised, 
and expressed in the saying that a committee has 
neither a soul to be saved nor a body to be kicked. 
Even bodies of picked men, the (^lite of a nation, — 

CHAP, xin 


even governments and Cabinets — are guilty of 
prevarications, subterfuges, evasions, and mean- 
nesses, whicli no individual member of them would 
think of dointr. The reason would seem to be that 
corporate action is, in social matters, a more primitive 
mode of action than individual initiative. The unit 
of society is not the individual, but the family ; 
and, through many ages of incipient social life, the 
preservation and survival of the incipient society 
depended on the unity of corporate action. Whether 
the corporate action was right or wrong, wise or 
unwise, prudent or imprudent, was of far less 
moment to preservation and survival, than whether 
it was unanimous. If the members acted in unison 
wrongly, or unwisely, or imprudently, the society 
might survive. It would probably be damaged. It 
might lose some, perhaps many, of its members. 
But what was left of it would still be a social body. 
If some acted in one way and some in another, 
individuals might survive ; but the social body 
would be disintegrated, and, as a social body, would 
perish ; and in the destruction of the social body, 
the individuals, however prudent, however wise, 
who pursued an independent course of action, would 
also perish. Some flavour of its primitive origin 
still hangs about corporate action. Corporate action 
is, by its origin and nature, more primitive in char- 
acter than action on individual initiative ; and being 
more primitive, it seeks its ends by ways that are, 
upon the whole, more direct, less intelligent, and 
less moral. 

It is in ceremonial that the sway of custom is 

204 CONDUCT book n 

most absolute. Ceremonial, whether in the Court, 
or in Courts of Law, or in religious observance, or 
in social intercourse, is regulated almost entirely by 
custom. No doubt the ceremonial does change with 
lapse of time. We profess ourselves ' most obedient 
servants ' in writing only now ; we bow more seldom, 
and we curtsy not at all ; but we still open our 
Courts of Law with the Norman-French Oyez, Oyez, 
of eight centuries ago ; our prelates still wear their 
copes, and carry their crosiers ; our barons still, on 
ceremonial occasions, wear their coronets and their 
ermine ; and, in controversies on the proper ecclesi- 
astical ceremonial, we take our stand avowedly on 
antiquity. That is right which prevailed in the 
third century, or the sixth century, as the case 
may be. 

The sway of fashion is subtle and far-reaching. 
It affects, not only our voluntary acts, but the very 
functions of our bodies, and seems to extend even to 
physical conformation. From a hundred and fifty 
years ago to a time some of us can remember, it 
was the fashion to faint away, or swoon, on occasions 
of stress and emotion. In the novels of Richardson, 
and of later date, down to the middle of the last 
century, the heroine, and even the hero, swooned 
when they parted, and swooned when they met ; 
swooned when they received a letter, and swooned 
when they wrote one ; swooned when they heard 
bad news, and swooned when they heard good. 
And these swoons were perfectly genuine. The 
syncope was real. The heart's action was suspended. 
But no one swoons now. Swooning is out of fashion. 


In religious revivals, the groans, and shouts, and 
gesticulations, are voluntary, or semi-voluntary, but 
the swoons and the convulsions that are sometimes 
exhibited, are involuntary results of fashion. In 
the so-called ' aesthetic ' craze of the 'eighties of the 
last century, it was astonishing to find the women 
presenting a certain type of features which formed 
part of the fashion. The tousled hair could be 
arranged ; the leanness could be produced by re- 
striction of diet ; but the hatchet faces, the prominent 
chins, the hollow eyes, the thin noses, that character- 
ised multitudes of the votaries of the cult, had not 
been seen before, and have not been seen since, in 
anything approaching the number and proportion 
of the population that then obtained. 

Conformity with custom is more important, bio- 
logically, than conformity with fashion, and the 
instinct of continuing to do what has heretofore 
been done, is more dominant than the instinct of 
doing what others are now doing. Those who fail 
to conform to fashion, are scorned and derided ; but 
those who innovate upon custom, are hated and 
persecuted. Continuity of action is more strictly 
safeguarded than conformity of action ; and pre- 
sumably, therefore, is more important to the conserva- 
tion of society. In every department of life, the 
sway of custom is tyrannous. From the games of 
children, to the solemn observances of religion : from 
the consumption of hot cross buns on Good Friday, 
to the elaborate ceremonies of a coronation ; from 
the hanging up of mistletoe at Christmas, to the 
procedure of Courts of Justice, and the mode of 


signifying the approval of the Sovereign of the 
statutes passed by Parliament; custom rules the 

Neither in adhering to custom, nor in following 
the fashion, do we always know the motive of our 
action. Especially in adhering to custom, we are 
apt to suppose that we do so for some other reason 
than the mere desire to continue action that is 
become customary. Ordinarily, we follow custom 
because it is customary, and do not seek for any 
motive ; but if a motive is demanded, we grope 
about for it, and find it, perhaps, in something 
which we consider ought to have influenced us, but 
which in fact was never in our thoughts. The 
natives of India do not avow any motive for follow- 
ing the custom of caste, any more than they avow a 
motive for walking on two limbs rather than on four. 
To them, caste is part of the order of nature ; and 
needs no more motive than sleeping or waking. 
Neither does it often occur to us to ask why a bride 
should be dressed in white, or should wear a veil. 
We accept the custom without inquiry. But if 
inquiry is made, the answer we get is often not the 
true answer. It is an answer invented to serve the 
occasion — invented in all good faith, and believed to 
be true, but still it is wide of the mark. If, for 
instance, we ask why Latin is, or was for generations, 
the main subject taught in every school, we are told 
that it is because it is an unparalleled mental 
exercise ; because it is the foundation of a good 
style of speaking and writing ; because it is necessary 
to the knowledge of English ; and twenty other 



reasons which are transparently incorrect. The real 
motive, that it is customary, is not wilfully con- 
cealed : it is unknown, unrecognised; and the motives 
assigned are believed to be the true motives. Only 
occasionally, as for instance, in the style of dress, is 
the real motive of following fashion or custom, 
recognised and avowed to be the desire to do what 


others are doing, or have done. 

Following the fashion has its origin in that 
biological necessity for uniformity of action on the 
part of members of a community, that has been 
several times referred to ; and, given the consequent 
instinctive desire, and the ever present example, 
needs no further explanation. But conformity with 
custom, though custom be no more than unchanging 
fashion, needs more accounting for, for the opportun- 
ity of following custom is much less continuous 
than that of following fashion. What is generally 
being done is constantly in levidence before us ; but 
what has been generally done by them of old time, 
does not necessarily come before us continually, or 
even frequently. Many customs are followed only at 
certain times of year, such as decorating with holly at 
Christmas ; wearing new clothes at Easter ; choosing 
valentines in February ; and so forth. Others are 
followed only on certain occasions in life ; as at 
birth, marriage, death, the execution of deeds, 
crossing the equator, and so forth ; others, again, on 
certain anniversaries, as on birthdays, Guy Fawkes 
day, Calf's Head day, and so forth. In inquiring into 
the origin of custom, as of fashion, two things have 
to be clearly distinguished. We must recognise a 



clear distinction between the origin of the particular 
custom or fashion, and the origin of the habit of 
following custom or fashion, apart from any particular 
observance. The origin of particular customs and 
fashions is postponed for the moment. The origin 
of instinctive desire to conform with fashion, we have 
already found ; and since custom is but fashion that 
has been long unchanged, it seems that no further 
explanation of following custom is needed ; but the 
intermittent occurrence of many customs, the rarity 
of occasion for many of them, marks a distinction 
between fashion and custom, and makes some further 
explanation necessary. When a custom is followed 
but once a year, or once in a lifetime; and on an 
isolated occasion, when the same action is not at the 
time being followed by others ; it can scarcely be 
said to be done because it is being generally done. 
It is done, no doubt, because it is generally done by 
others on similar occasions in their lives ; but it is 
not done because it is now being done. It is done 
for the sake of continuity in succession of perform- 
ance ; not for the sake of conformity of simultaneous 
performance. While it is easy to see that, if all the 
members of a society scatter simultaneously in 
different directions, the society will be dispersed and 
will cease to exist ; it is by no means so clear that if 
they all simultaneously alter their mode of action 
from what has previously been the rule, the same 
consequence will follow. Hence, conformity with 
custom requires an explanation beyond that needed 
for conformity with fashion. And we have seen that 
conformity with custom is more strictly safeguarded 


than conformity with fashion. The penalties that 
attach to a breach of custom are, on the whole, more 
severe than those that are visited on a departure 
from fashion ; and conformity with custom would 
seem, therefore, to be socially more important. 

The great advantage of adherence to custom, 
would seem to be that it is a safeguard against the 
risks that attend novelty of action. Custom ensures 
the preservation of modes of action, that the experience 
of past generations has proved to be beneficial. It 
ensures that each generation profits by the experi- 
ence of previous generations ; and does not need 
to discover for itself, by the wasteful and perilous 
process of trial and error, the best ways of dealing 
with recurring circumstances. It is true that many 
customs are mere ceremonials, and have, apparently, 
no immediate bearing on the welfare and survival of 
the society in which they prevail ; but it would be a 
mistake to suppose that ceremonial observance has 
no bearing on the stability of society ; and many 
customary modes of action are not ceremonial. 
Moreover, if the instinct is of value in certain 
matters, it is certain, as with other instincts, to 
overflow into other regions, in which its value is 
less apparent. Customary action is a substitute for 
instinctive action. It provides, for a given set of 
recurring circumstances, a mode of action that can be 
adopted without any laborious reasoning process, — a 
mode of action that has grown up and been elaborated 
in the course of preceding generations, and has been 
found effectual by them. We have seen, in a previous 
chapter, how novel action, as it becomes first habitual, 



and then automatic, approximates in nature to 
instinctive action ; we now see another approach to 
instinctive action, made in another way — not in 
the course of a single lifetime, by the repetition of 
action in a single individual, but in the course 
of generations, by the repetition of the same mode 
of action by many successive individuals. I have 
repeatedly spoken of conformity with custom as 
instinctive action ; and I now speak of customary 
action as a substitute for instinctive action — as 
quasi -instinctive ; but the statements are not 
inconsistent. The desire to follow custom is a 
true instinct ; inasmuch as it is innate, fixed, in- 
variable, the same in all ; but the particular custom 
that is followed is an accident. It depends on the 
custom that happens to prevail in the community to 
which the individual belongs. If the custom were 
just the opposite of what it is, he would follow 
it with equal avidity. In short, the instinctive 
element in the act is not the following of the 
particular custom, but the general mode of acting 
in accordance with custom, whatever the custom 
may happen to be. 

The origin of particular customs is, in many cases, 
obscure ; in many is lost in the mists of antiquity ; 
but the instinct of following custom must have had its 
origin, like other instincts, in the biological advantage 
that it bestows ; and most, if not all, customs must 
have had a similar origin. We argue the biological 
advantage, at any rate in primitive communities, of 
the instinct of adhering to custom, from its strength 
and universality in such communities. In all 


primitive communities, adherence to custom is rigid 
and tyrannous ; and, in view of the decided 
disadvantages of certain customs, this dominance 
of customary action would not prevail unless the 
countervailing advantages were very great. I do not 
say that the utility of any customary observance is 
necessarily perceived by those who practise it. In 
many cases, they would be puzzled to assign to it 
any utilitarian function ; in many cases, the utility 
that they do assign to it is imaginary, as in the case 
of teaching of Latin ; but it must have had, at the time 
of its origin, some biological advantage, or it would 
not have become customary ; or, if this is not true of 
every case, it must be true that on balance, and in 
the long run, the customs of a community must be 
beneficial to it. For those communities whose 
customs were adverse to their welfare, would perish 
before the competition of those whose customs were 
advantageous ; and the latter would survive and 
flourish. In primitive communities, especially, in 
which a very large part of conduct is regulated by 
custom, the customs that are prevalent must be, on 
balance, beneficial, or the community would perish. 
Whether or no individual customs are beneficial or not, 
and it is difiicult to see what benefit to the community 
can arise from the couvade, or from infanticide, or 
from the infliction of deformities ; it is certain that 
the instinct of adhering to custom, whatever the 
custom may be, must in the long run, be of great 
biological advantage in primitive communities. 

The complement of adherence to custom is opposi- 
tion to change ; and we find this instinct very strongly 


developed in most people, and especially in people 
of primitive cast of mind, — in children, in unadvanced 
communities, and in the dull. The degree in which 
this instinct is developed is, in fact, a rough measure 
of the grade of reason of its possessor. Any change 
in customary modes of conduct, unless it is adopted 
simultaneously by the whole community, is resisted 
with tenacity, and usually with acrimony, unless it 
is a mode of conduct that is customarily changeable. 
Generally, the more primitive the society, the fewer 
modes of conduct are subject to change ; and the 
more developed the society, the more tolerant is it of 
change, and the more modes of conduct are changeable 
without opposition ; but even in societies that we 
consider highly developed, change, in matters that 
are not customarily subject to change, is instinctively 
resisted. We have seen of late years a passionate 
resistance to the change of throwing professions open 
to women ; and we see it now in the resistance to 
admitting them to the suffrage. 

History is one long record of resistance to change 
of custom — resistance that has always been strenuous, 
often sanguinary, and usually at length overcome. 
The history of religious custom, in all ages and all 
countries, has been the history of a bloody retaliation 
on innovation ; and even in the most advanced com- 
munities, religious persecution is far from extinct. 
Social and industrial history repeat the tale. In 
very many cases, vested interests combine with 
instinctive disinclination in opposition to change ; 
but in many, the opposition is purely, or largely, 
instinctive. The persons interested in stage-coaches. 


formed but a minority of those who opposed the 
introduction of railways ; and the equally strenuous 
opposition, which is now forgotten, to, the macadamisa- 
tion of roads, could not have had a large support 
from vested interests. It required a national disaster 
to supersede by book-keeping, the keeping of the 
national accounts by wooden tallies. The establish- 
ment of the penny post was opposed as violently as 
the application of chloroform to mitigate the pains 
of labour. Changes of spelling, which would tend to 
brevity, simplicity, to the clearing of confusion in 
pronunciation, and to the elucidation of etymology, 
are prevented by the instinctive opposition to change. 
Every change of social conditions, however manifestly 
beneficial, requires, even nowadays, when change is 
become frequent and normal, elaborate organisation, 
and much expense of money and labour, to bring it 
about. In every department of conduct, change of 
custom is achieved at the cost of much labour, much 
time, and much odium. 

Yet custom does change, it may be by unnoticeable 
degrees, it may be with startling abruptness ; but it 
changes ; and our task is to find the causes by which 
change of custom is produced. The changes of fashion 
are notorious for their rapidity and want of reason, 
and these also are to be accounted for. 

Probably the earliest and the most frequently - 
acting solvent, that softens the rigid carapace of 
custom and renders it pliant, is the conflict of 
customs that arises from the intercourse of different 
communities having different customs. Primitive 
communities grow in nearly complete isolation ; and 


even in highly developed communities, a large part 
of the nation has usually but little intercourse with 
other nations ; but in the life of every community, 
occasions arise, with more or less frequency, on which 
a part or the whole of the community is brought into 
contact with customs different from its own ; and 
this contact, and the resulting comparison, tend to 
disturb the uniformity of both the compared customs. 
The chief mode of contact between communities is, 
of course, war ; and in primitive communities, the 
contact of war is very complete. The whole, or the 
greater part, of the primitive community, takes part 
in war ; and war often results in the conquest and 
absorption of one community by another. In such a 
case, the conquered, though absorbed and merged in 
the conquerors, may retain to a large extent their 
own customs ; and then two bodies of custom will 
exist side by side, with the result that each will 
modify the other ; and although one may eventually 
prevail, it will be changed in the process. It will be 
in some respects modified by the other. Thus, the 
great anniversaries of the Christian Church are 
adopted from the pagan rites that they superseded. 
Feudal law and common law both survived, but each 
acted on and modified the other. History records 
many cases of the conquering race adopting, with 
more or fewer modifications, the religion, the 
language, the laws of the conquered ; and when the 
conquered have been forced to adopt the customs 
of the conquerors, these customs have always been 
modified in the process of adoption. In this way, 
not only are customs changed, but the very fact that 


they are clianged, tends to familiarise people with 
the notion that custom can be changed ; and thus 
prepares the way for future changes. 

A similar influence is exerted by the peaceful 
incorporation into a nation, of alien individuals, 
especially when the immigration is copious. The 
immigrants bring with them their own customs, and 
two sets of customs cannot exist side by side, without 
mutually modifying each other. It was the large 
importation into Imperial Rome, of immigrants from 
the provinces, that paved the way for the adoption 
of the Christian religion. The immigrants were 
themselves pagans, but they were pagans professing 
many different religions, and the existence, side by 
side, of many diff'erent religious faiths, loosened the 
ties of all, and facilitated the adoption of a new faith. 
The two nations of the modern world in which 
custom is least binding, and new modes of conduct 
meet with least opposition, are England and the 
United States of America ; and these are the 
countries that have received immigrants in the 
largest numbers. 

An influence similar in character, though less in 
degree, is exerted by contact and intercourse with 
people of alien customs, without actual incorporation. 
Caeteris paribus, it is the commercial nations, such 
as England and Holland, in which custom is most 
flexible ; the isolated nations, such as India and 
China, in which the power of custom is most 
dominant. Intercourse with other nations was the 
primary cause of the break-up of custom in Japan. 

It is doubtful whether any recognition of the 


disadvantage attending any mode of customary action, 
would, of itself, be enough to break the custom, 
unless some of the foregoing influences had already 
been at work, to weaken the instinct of observance 
of custom ; but when once the sacred character of 
customary observance is infringed and weakened, the 
way is open to departure from any particular custom 
that is especially burdensome, or that is no longer 
applicable to an altered state of society. Once a 
breach is made in any custom, and the whole 
customal of that society is weakened in security ; 
and, the preliminary condition being satisfied, it is 
the perception of positive disadvantages in a custom 
that leads, usually after a bitter struggle, to its 
defeat and discontinuance. As nations advance in 
social aptitude, and the social bond is maintained by 
the direct desire to aid, support, and serve the com- 
munity as a whole, and its individual members ; the 
indirect bonds, of which adhesion to custom is one, 
become less necessary to social conservation ; and may 
be dispensed with, without consequent weakening of 
the social union. In advanced nations, therefore, 
customs may be dispensed with, and the general 
observance of custom may be slackened and weakened, 
to an extent that would speedily bring about the 
dissolution of a more primitive community. Such 
slackening of custom must, however, be made 
cautiously and gradually, if the social bond is not 
to suffer ; and we must therefore welcome the 
stubborn opposition to change, that compels every 
departure from custom to justify itself completely 
before it is adopted. 


Changes of mere fashion are more readily allowed 
than changes of custom ; and the reason is clear. If 
the fashion has been long in existence, it is not a 
mere fashion, but a fashion that has become a custom. 
If it is a mere fashion, it is the product of compara- 
tively recent change ; and there is no resentment 
against change of things in which change is customary. 
For there may be a custom to change as well as a 
custom not to change ; and when change in any 
department of conduct is customary, it would be a 
departure from custom to refrain from changing the 
fashion. Still, the instinctive desire to do as others 
are doing is very strong, and a departure from fashion 
requires explanation. 

At the root of change of fashion is desire for change, 
an instinctive desire that is intimately connected 
with the constitution of the nervous system and of 
the mind. Psychologists tell us that all conscious- 
ness depends on change; and that an unchanging 
state of consciousness is a state of unconsciousness. 
Physiologists tell us that the nervous system is a 
storehouse of motion, constantly filling and constantly 
needing expenditure ; and both are agreed that the 
changes of mind are correlated with the activity of 
nerve function. We have seen in a previous chapter, 
that there are two modes ^in which conduct is 
originated. Conduct is originated by the outbreak 
of accumulated motion, that has reached a point of 
tension no longer controllable by inherent resistance 
to its discharge ; and is originated also by the pro- 
vocation and elicitation of impinging impressions. 
The accumulation of motion, as it approaches the 

218 CONDUCT book n 

bursting-point, is attended with feelings of uneasiness, 
increasing to the massive misery that is experienced 
by the captive and the prisoner, to whom normal 
activity is denied. The denial of opportunity for the 
expenditure of motion in spontaneous conduct, is well 
recognised to be attended with pain and misery. 
What is, perhaps, less well recognised, is that denial 
of the opportunity for the expenditure of motion by 
elicitation is also painful. Expenditure of motion in 
this way cannot, ex hypothesi, take place, except in 
response to impression ; and impression is not pro- 
duced except by change of circumstances. Hence 
the longing for change of circumstances. The 
monotony of long continued sameness, becomes at 
length intolerable. As with so many other desires, 
we do not in the least recognise or appreciate the 
physiological or psychological source of the longing ; 
all we appreciate is that the longing exists, and 
demands satisfaction. From time to time, a change 
of circumstances comes to be ardently desired. This 
is why the townsman retreats into the country, and 
the countryman takes his holiday in town ; this is 
the motive of foreign travel ; this is why we discard 
a garment before it is worn out ; this is the greater 
part of the attraction of shows, pageants, theatres, 
and assemblies of all kinds ; this is why some move 
their furniture, others their residence ; and so forth ; 
and this is the motive that lies at the root of changes 
of fashion. If change is desired, and if conformity 
with the doings of others is desired, then the com- 
bination of these two desires leads direct to a change 
of fashion. 



Granted, however, that all desire change, and all 
desire to conform, there still remains the difficulty of 
explaining how it is that all adopt the same change, 
without previous agreement as to what the change 
is to be ; and in changes of fashion, such common 
agreement is rare. In matters of dress, for instance, 
there is no widespread agreement or understanding as 
to the character of a new fashion. A new fashion 
comes in, and all follow it ; yet, when it first comes 
in, it is not a fashion. It is followed, not generally, 
but by a few only. The earliest exponents of a new 
fashion are not actuated by the desire to conform, or 
they would not depart from the old fashion ; and as 
soon as the change they have introduced is generally 
followed, and is become the fashion, it is distasteful to 
them, and must be replaced by something else. Thus 
we see the curious paradox that the leaders of fashion 
are themselves the least fashionable, in the true sense 
of the word. The explanation is to be found in 
another principle of conduct, already expounded. It 
lies in the desire for admiration, for eminence, for 
superiority, for leadership, which is so potent a 
motive to conduct. Conformity with fashion is 
following the example of others ; and when example 
is followed, example must be set. Where there are 
many who follow, there must be some who lead ; and 
the leaders are those who have the power, described 
in the last chapter, of impressing their will upon the 
wills of others. The usual origin of a change in 
fashion is that it is first made, for the sake of change, 
by a person of originating and independent mind ; 
and, once started, the natural desires of change, and 


for conforming to fashion, do the rest. In matters 
in which change of fashion is frequent, there is little 
danger of odium in setting a new fashion ; but 
change of custom, though it may be brought about 
in the same way, requires exceptional daring on the 
part of the innovator. 



1. On Ourselves 

The normal effect of the action of others toward us, 
is to produce reciprocal action of the same kind 
towards them. The effect is by no means invariable ; 
it is modified by precept, by example, by the dis- 
position of the person acted on, and by other factors ; 
but broadly and generally, the action of others 
towards us, is reciprocated by similar action towards 
them. The primary and natural impulse of human 
nature, on being struck, is to strike back ; on being 
pushed, to push again ; to meet a scowl by a scowl, 
and a smile by a smile. These crude and direct 
reciprocations are types of more elaborate and in- 
direct reciprocations, that prevail in higher spheres 
of conduct. Generally, beneficent action evokes a 
return of beneficence ; maleficent action, a return 
of evildoing; and neutral action a return in kind. 
On persons, for instance, who put questions to us, 
that we do not consider them entitled to put, we are 
apt to retaliate by similar questions in turn ; but 
the action of others towards us is rarely, as the 


222 CONDUCT book n 

instance shows, neutral, either in effect or in 
intention ; and, in practice, we need consider action 
towards ourselves, only as it concerns our welfare ; 
and the natural and primary reaction is, as has been 
said, reciprocal. 

The rule is not invariable. We do not now rob 
the man who has robbed us ; but such a mode of 
retaliation is undoubtedly the primitive mode. It is 
followed among primitive people — among savages 
and children. When Billy is asked why he took 
Tommy's top, the answer ' Well, he took my 
marbles,' seems, to the childish sense of justice, full 
and explanatory. The increasing complexity and 
elaborateness of action in human society, and the 
imperative necessity that the peace shall be kept, 
has led to more elaborate reciprocation on even crude 
injuries ; and whatever the mode of injury, or the 
mode of retaliation, there is a universal feeling, 
common to all nations, people, and languages, to all 
ages and all races, that the reciprocated injury 
should bear a proportion to that which provokes it. 
It need not be an injury of the same kind. If a 
man hits me on the jaw, I may hit him on the eye, 
without the sense of justice in a bystander being 
outraged. If he picks my pocket, I may give him in 
charge to the police ; but whatever form my retalia- 
tion takes, it must bear a severity roughly pro- 
portionate to the severity of the injury inflicted. If 
my retaliation falls short of this, I am unsatisfied, 
and wish to increase it. If it exceeds this standard, 
I alienate the sympathy of lookers on, and prepare 
for myself an attack of remorse. It is much the 



same if the action on ourselves is beneficent. 
When one does us a kindness, or a service, we desire 
to reciprocate it by doing kindness or service in 
return ; and we preserve a proportion between that 
which is oriven and that which is returned. As 
long as the reciprocation is in abeyance, we feel 
under a sense of obligation that is irksome and un- 
pleasant, and that we wish to terminate. If the 
return that we make is much less than what is given 
us, we feel that we have been mean, and the feeling 
is unpleasant. If the return is much greater, we are 
troubled by the feeling that we have laid on our 
benefactor a burden of obligation, that will be a 
greater trouble to him than the service we have 
rendered will compensate. 

In our dealings with our friends, however, we do 
not open a ledger, entering on the one side the 
services rendered, and on the other the benefits 
returned. The rule holds good broadly and generally, 
and is pretty accurate as applied between acquaint- 
ances, whose means of giving and returning are 
approximately the same. It does not hold good 
between friends, nor between those of very unequal 
opportunities. Friendship cancels obligation on the 
one side, and the expectation of return on the other. 
From our friends we are glad to receive kindnesses, 
services, and gifts, rendered in token of friendship ; 
and we feel under no obligation for them, under no 
compulsion to make return, except by increase of 
goodwill. Nay, any return in kind by way of pay- 
ment, such as we should feel bound to make to an 
acquaintance, is felt to be dishonouring to friendship. 


Friendship gives with both hands, and seeks only 
the gratification of giving. A friend would be 
disappointed and hurt at any direct return for 
the offices of friendship ; but would feel equally 
disappointed and hurt if, on occasion arising, no 
return were made. This is the difference. Between 
acquaintances of equal opportunity, a direct return of 
kindly offices is required. Between friends, a direct 
return is hurtful, since it indicates that the friendship 
is no friendship, but mere acquaintanceship. The 
eftect, between friends, of rendering services, is to 
render the friendship closer and more intimate, and 
to increase the desire to render services generally, 
and when occasion serves, but not ad hoc — not in 
direct reciprocation. 

Between persons of very unequal opportunity, 
direct reciprocation of benefits is not expected. We 
help those who are weaker than ourselves, and are 
helped by those who are stronger, without thought 
in the first case, or obligation in the second, of direct 
return, or of any return at all. I procure employ- 
ment for this man, who is out of work ; a fortnight 
in the country for this child, who is out of health ; 
a midwife for that woman, who is about to be con- 
fined ; and neither do I look for return, nor do they 
think of making it. But this I expect, as a reciproca- 
tion of my benevolence — that they shall refrain from 
injurious action towards me. If the man works 
actively against my candidature ; if the child throws 
mud at me ; if the woman spreads evil reports about 
me, and hints that a father should take precautions 
about the bringing of his child into the world ; I 


have reason to feel aggrieved. If my professional 
senior helps me, a beginner, to my first patient, 
or my first brief, and I accept his help ; he closes 
my mouth if I happen to know that his methods of 
practice are below the high standard of professional 

Retaliation against injury is rarely defective in 
intention. There are few who are content to receive 
an injury, and to pass it by without an attempt at 
retaliation, unless the circumstances are such that 
retaliation is impracticable ; and even then, a feeling 
of soreness is cherished, and determination is fixed 
that, if ever opportunity presents* itself, retaliation 
shall be made. Fortunately, for the peace of society, 
such determinations are, with most people, softened 
and mitigated by the lapse of time. The Christian 
morality forbids them to be entertained ; and forbids 
even that instant retaliation, when instant retalia- 
tion is possible, which is an instinctive trait of human 
character. Such teaching has not, in this respect, 
been effective ; but this it has done — it has rein- 
forced, and in some measures forestalled, the effect on 
vindictive determination, that is exercised by lapse 
of time. It has abbreviated the time during which 
such determinations endure, and brought about an 
earlier evanescence. 

The cardinal error of retaliation upon injury is 
more often excess than defect. Instant retaliation 
tends strongly to be excessive, and out of proportion 
to the injury suffered. So well is this recognised, 
that a rule was once introduced into the Navy, at the 
instance of Captain Marryat, that no offender against 



discipline should be punislied until after the lapse of 
twenty-four hours from the discovery of his offence. 
People who are described as of hasty temper, 
are those in whom instant retaliation is apt to be 
greatly excessive, and often to be regretted when 
lapse of time has brought a juster estimation of the 
injury suffered. On the other hand, those are 
termed vindictive, in whom the lapse of time brings 
little or no mitigation of the sense of injury, and of 
the determination to retaliate. There are those, and 
their characters are not admired, in whom the over- 
estimation of injury suffered is accompanied by a long 
endurance of an undiminishing determination to 
retaliate. Such characters pertain, on the one hand, 
to primitive people, as exemplified in the practice 
of vendetta ; and on the other hand, to people who 
may be termed, somewhat paradoxically, secondarily 
primitive ; that is to say, who are reduced by the 
denuding action of insanity to a state of quasi- 
artificial primitiveness. 

The return of good offices may similarly be de- 
fective or excessive. There are those — egotistic and 
selfish persons, frequent among both the sane and the 
insane — who are content to receive the kind offices, 
the services, the benefits, conferred on them by other 
people, without the thought of any return. What- 
ever benefits they receive, they accept as their right ; 
and this trait of character is sometimes pushed so far 
that the accepting of a benefit from another, they 
regard, not as establishing an obligation, but as con- 
ferring a favour on that other. By an established 
convention, the Sovereign is ' graciously pleased to 


accept ' the gifts and services of his subjects. The 
egotist puts himself in the place of a sovereign lord, 
and is graciously pleased to accept benefits from 
others, as his bare due ; never regarding the transac- 
tion in any other light than that of conferring a 
favour on his benefactor. Others, again, are defective 
in this mode of conduct, from meanness. They know 
and appreciate that they are under obligation as the 
recipients of benevolence, but the pain of remaining 
under obligation is less than the pain of discharging 
it, and under obligation they remain. 

On the other hand, the sense of obligation is, in 
some, excessive. They are as sensitive to obligation 
as a cat is to wet feet, and are impatient both to 
incur and to endure it. Offers of help they resent ; 
the unrequited services of others they disdain. They 
will be self-sufficient. They will be independent. 
Such self-sufficiency and independence are, in their 
degree, altogether praiseworthy ; but they are, in 
some, pushed to an excess that renders their exhibitor 
impracticable and unattractive. Theirs is the pride 
that is apt to go before a fall ; and in the fall they 
meet with little sympathy — and would repudiate it 
if it were tendered to them. 

There is one mode of excessive sensitiveness to 
obligation, and excessive return for goodwill, which is 
limited, as far as I know, to the Jewish race. There 
are not a few Jews who feel and give effect to an 
obligation, when any of their possessions is admired, 
to make a present of the admired object to the person 
who admires it. This very amiable trait of character 
may be a source of considerable embarrassment to the 


recipient of their bounty, for which the donor looks 
for no return, and would be chagrined if a return 
were made. 

2. Influence on Conduct of the Action of Others 
on Others 

The action of others towards third parties, pro- 
duces in us a definite attitude towards the actors, and 
modifies our conduct towards them. The observation 
of beneficent action towards others, produces in us 
an attitude of sympathy and approval towards the 
actor, increases our regard for him, and disposes us to 
express the increased regard in our conduct. If his 
benefactions are on a large scale, we entertain him at 
a banquet ; we subscribe to present him with his 
portrait ; we work, perhaps, to secure his election to 
parliament ; and when he dies, we pay our respects 
by following him to his grave. If his beneficence is 
exhibited in isolated acts of kindness here and there, 
we become benevolently disposed towards him. If 
we know of any object that he wishes to attain, we 
help him towards it. We desire, and as far as 
opportunity allows, we serve, his welfare. We feel 
that he has established a claim on our goodwill. 

If, on the other hand, his action towards others is 
maleficent, it arouses in us an attitude antagonistic 
towards him, and we desire that he shall be punished, 
and are ready, if occasion serves, to take part in its 
infliction. When we hear of a brutal murder, we 
desire ardently the capture and punishment of the 
murderer ; and, if occasion serves, we give information 



to the police, or aid the course of justice in any way 
within our power. If we come upon a boy ill-treating 
his younger brother, or tormenting a cat, we box his 
ears. Deeply implanted in every human being is the 
desire that those who inflict pain on others, should 
themselves be made to suffer pain ; and this is the 
foundation of every system of criminal law. Inti- 
mately bound up with this desire, is the desire that 
such action shall be prevented for the future ; but this 
is a later and a secondary result of witnessing the 
infliction of suff'ering. The first, the primary, the 
crude, instinctive impulse, is to inflict pain in retalia- 
tion for pain inflicted. 

When we witness the infliction of injury upon 
others, the desire arises in us to inflict pain upon the 
injurer ; and not merely to inflict pain, but to inflict 
an amount of pain bearing some proportion to that 
inflicted by the ofi'ender ; and more than this, we 
have some vague leaning towards inflicting on the 
injurer, pain of the same kind that he has made others 
suff'er. The last desire is become, to a great extent, 
overlaid and stifled in the complexity of modern 
civilisation ; but in primitive natures it is often dis- 
played. In the code of Hammurabi, if a jerry-built 
house fell, and killed the tenant, the builder was to 
be killed. If it fell, and killed the eldest son of the 
tenant, the eldest son of the builder was to be killed. 
Retaliation of such punctual accuracy as this, is termed 
poetical justice, and the term seems to imply that it 
is not to be expected in a workaday world. In fact, 
it is in most cases impracticable, and the utmost that 
we now expect is that there shall be some corre- 


spondence in degree, Ijetween the pain suffered, and 
the pain inflicted, by an offender, without stipulating 
for any similarity in kind. 

An opinion is often expressed, that the treatment 
of those who have injured others, should be restricted 
to what is sufficient to deter them from its repetition, 
and to deter others who are inclined to commit 
similar offences ; and that the retaliatory element 
should be altogether discarded. This is not the place 
to discuss questions of penology. My object is not 
to consider what conduct ought to be, but to describe 
what conduct is ; and, that punishment always is, in 
fact, retaliatory, there cannot, in my opinion, be any 
doubt at all. When we contemplate the brutal 
murder and mutilation of a charming woman by her 
husband, do we restrict our desire for the punishment 
of the murderer, to such measure as may secure that he 
has no opportunity to murder and mutilate a second 
wife, and that other husbands may be warned not to 
murder and mutilate their wives ? If the first object 
alone were desired, it would be enough to keep the 
murderer under police supervision for the rest of his 
life. Would this be considered an adequate punish- 
ment in the mind and conscience of the average man ? 
If, in addition, the deterrence of others from doing the 
like is to actuate us in awarding punishment, then we 
must not inflict a punishment more severe than is 
sufficient to attain this result. How far the punish- 
ment of one is a deterrent to others from committing 
a similar offence, must always be a matter of con- 
jecture ; but suppose it were a matter of certainty, 
and suppose we knew for certain that a severe repri- 



mand of the murderer would have the same deterrent 
effect upon other would-be murderers as hanging him, 
should we be contented with inflicting this punishment 
upon a man for the murder and mutilation of his 
wife ? I am sure that very few would answer this 
question in the aftirmative. When we hear of some 
trivial sentence, a fine of a few shillings, or a few days' 
imprisonment, being inflicted upon a man or a woman 
who has barbarously tortured a child ; are we think- 
ing of the want of deterrent effect that this mild 
punishment will have upon others ? I say with con- 
fidence that we are not ; that if we think at all of the 
deterrent effect, or of the want of it, it is as an after- 
thought. The main reason of our dissatisfaction is 
the inadequacy of the punishment to the oflence, the 
want of proportion between the pain that the offender 
suffers, and the pain that he has inflicted. 

In these days, it is rare for a public benefactor 
not to receive, in meal or in malt, our adequate 
recognition of his benefactions ; and the man who is 
not moved to show goodwill towards the private 
benefactor of others, is a churl, and a very infrequent 
churl. The public attitude towards malefactors has 
undergone, during the last few generations, a great 
alteration, and is still in process of change. Until 
less than a hundred years ago, they were treated by 
punishments of the most savage, and even barbarous, 
character. The gallows, the axe, the stake, the wheel, 
the quartering-block, the rack, the thumbscrew, and 
the boot, were employed with horrible frequency ; 
and such retaliations of society on its depredators 
are now regarded with horror. Nowadays, the 

282 CONDUCT book n 

malefactor is treated with consideration, and even 
with tenderness. By some, he is regarded as the 
victim of heredity : by others, as the victim of 
circumstances ; and yet others, with a curious 
perverseness of ingenuity, blame the victim, society, 
for the depredations of those that prey upon it. 
The tendency now is to treat the malefactor with 
more consideration than is shown to the honest poor 
man, who, in the face of dire temptation, has pre- 
served his integrity. Such treatment will inevitably 
increase the number of malefactors, and so work its 
own reform ; but there is another tendency, that, 
if it is not wholly modern, has become greatly 
accentuated in recent years, and is more difficult to 
combat ; and this is the rapid elevation of a peculiarly 
heinous malefactor into a popular hero. 

We have seen that, by lapse of time, the desire to 
retaliate upon those who have injured us, is normally 
diminished ; and something of the same diminution 
takes place in the desire to punish those who have 
injured others. On the first discovery of a barbarous 
crime, the criminal is universally execrated ; and if 
he then were to fall into the hands of the mob, he 
would be lynched instantly and without mercy. But 
with lapse of time, this indignation dies down. It is 
not surprising, nor is it much to be regretted, that 
we can now read of the crimes of a Brinvilliers or a 
Borgia, without feeling the same fervour of indigna- 
tion that we should experience if they were recently 
committed. It would not be a mark of elevated 
morality if we could read of them without indignation ; 
and if any one should regard these perpetrators not 


as debased malefactors, but as a heroine or a hero, 
he would, I think, suffer in the estimation of his 
hearers, and be looked upon as the upholder of a 
very vitiated ethical standard. How, then, are we 
to regard those very numerous persons who make a 
sort of hero or heroine of the debased malefactors of 
the present day, as soon as the details of their crimes 
grow cold in the memory ? By the time the evidence 
has been collected, and the malefactor tried and 
condemned, there is always a considerable, sometimes 
a large, number of persons who treat him or her with 
nauseous adulation. The murderer who has beaten 
his wife to death, or killed her with circumstances of 
revolting barbarity, is the recipient of bouquets of 
flowers, which turn his condemned cell into a bower 
of roses. The woman who has outraged maternity 
by putting her innocent child to death, is over- 
whelmed with hundreds, literally hundreds, of offers 
of marriage. These demonstrations of perverted 
sympathy do not come from the professionally 
insane. They come from out the general population 
of persons capable of holding their places in the 
society to which they belong, and acting as sane 
persons. Such perverted and spurious sentimentality 
does, however, raise a presumption that its exhibitors 
are on the border of sanity, if they are not wholly 
beyond the pale. 

It seems, therefore, that the witnessing of injuries 
inflicted by others upon others, produces, in the 
bystander, an action towards the aggressor that is 
apt to be excessive as soon as the transgression is 
known ; but that rapidly diminishes, and is apt. 

234 CONDUCT book h 

after a time, to die down, and even to be reversed. 
When a man confesses to a murder that he committed 
twenty years ago, our desire for his punishment is 

3. Injluence 07i Conduct of the Actio7i of Others 
on Circumstances 

It would seem that action of others, which is 
directed neither towards ourselves nor towards our 
fellows, is no concern of ours, and can have but little 
influence on our conduct ; but this is not so. The 
interdependence of every member of a society on 
every other, is close and intimate ; and the action of 
each has its effect on all. Man acts on circumstances 
to overcome them, and to extract benefit from them 
for himself and his ; and the ways in which each man 
deals with his circumstances, have interest for all his 
fellows, and modify in some degree their conduct, 
especially their conduct towards him. 

If a man is successful in extracting benefit from 
his circumstances ; if his action on circumstances is 
efficient ; his success and efficiency breed, in those 
around him, an attitude of respect, which colours 
their conduct towards him. Such men are treated 
with respect. Their opinions are considered ; their 
acts are not lightly questioned ; their advice is 
valued ; their services are sought ; their example is 
followed ; their wishes are regarded. In many ways, 
they modify the conduct of those who know them. 
The man who is unsuccessful in extracting benefit 
from circumstances, becomes ipso facto negligible. 


His opinions carry no weight ; his acts, even when 
sensible, are lightly regarded ; none seeks his advice ; 
none seeks his services ; his example is noticed only 
to be avoided ; and his wishes are disregarded. 

These are the inevitable consequences of success 
and ill success ; but beyond this, there are certain 
phases of conduct, generated by the same results of 
action, but differing according to the character of 
the observer. In some, the witnessing of success in 
others breeds whole-hearted admiration that is freely 
expressed ; in others, differently constituted, the 
observation of success in others is a source of envy 
which finds its expression in detraction. 

The failure of others, produces conduct in the 
bystander that is similarly diverse, according to his 
character. In some it breeds sympathy, pity, and 
desire to help, that find expression in appropriate 
conduct ; in others it breeds contempt, self-esteem, 
and a desire to exhibit their own superiority by 
trampling on the unsuccessful. 

One would suppose that envy of the successful 
would go with brutality towards the unsuccessful, 
and this is generally true ; but it is not universally 
true. There are those who are sickened by the sight 
of success in others, in which they do not themselves 
share, and yet can protect and succour the unsuc- 
cessful ; so curiously compounded is human nature. 



Beyond that social conduct that is elicited from us 
by the existence, the presence, the attitude, the action, 
of others, there is a considerable range of social 
conduct that is autogenic or spontaneous. The 
social conduct of others, that elicits conduct from 
us, has its complement in social conduct of our 
own, that produces similar effects in them. Without 
being prompted or incited thereto by the conduct of 
others, we act in various ways towards them ; and 
these modes of conduct may be classified according 
as they are directed to influence the welfare of the 
state as a whole, of sections or classes, or of indi- 
viduals within the state ; and each of these three 
modes of conduct is further divisible according as 
it is active, on the one hand, or passive and self- 
restraining on the other. 

Patriotic Conduct 

Beyond that patriotic conduct which is elicited 
from us by desire of the approbation of our fellows, 
already treated of in a previous chapter, there is 
a spontaneous patriotism, that arises from love of 




country, and the more elevated motive of desiring 
to benefit the community to which we belong. The 
two motives are, no doubt, often associated ; and 
not even the actor himself may know how far he 
is actuated by patriotism, and how far by ambition ; 
but the two are distinct, and the distinction is well 

Patriotic conduct is conduct spontaneously de- 
voted to the service of the State ; but all service so 
devoted is not necessarily patriotic. Many thou- 
sands of persons serve the State, in the Navy, the 
Army, the Civil Service, not primarily for love of 
country, but as a means of livelihood. Even those 
who serve their country in the legislature, and 
render very arduous services without remuneration, 
are, it is believed, not all actuated solely by the 
motive of patriotism. None the less, patriotism 
is an efficient motive, actuating, in some, a large 
part of conduct, in some an occasional act only ; 
and few persons are altogether destitute of it. Mak- 
ing every allowance for ambition and class interest, 
yet the conduct of many statesmen, soldiers, and 
others, is largely dominated by the mere desire to 
serve the community to which they belong ; and 
there are times and occasions — times of Parliamentary 
elections and political turmoil, occasions of wars and 
embroilment with foreign states — when the conduct 
of a large proportion of the citizens of the country 
is actuated by the motive of serving the whole com- 
munity. Some convene meetings ; others attend 
them ; and yet others break them up. Some make 
speeches, which others interrupt ; some take part in 


processions, which others attack ; and, for the time 
being, a large part of the population is engaged in 
conduct directly inspired by regard for the welfare 
of the State. 

Such conduct may be in excess or in defect. 
Excess of patriotism is rare, and difficult to define ; 
for it is a condition of social life, that each individual 
in the community should be ready, upon occasion, 
to sacrifice everything, even his life, to the welfare 
of the State ; but he who allows his enthusiasm for 
politics to absorb so large a share of his conduct, 
as seriously to impair his livelihood, and that of his 
family, is thereby diminishing the welfare of the 
State as a whole, perhaps by more than his direct 
exertions enhance it. It may be, indeed, as in the 
case of the younger Pitt, that his services are of 
paramount importance to the State, and in such a 
case, patriotism will prompt him to sacrifice even 
his means of livelihood ; but even in his case, the 
very importance of his services rendered that conduct 
excessive, by which he impaired his health, and 
brought about his premature death. 

With many, again, civic conduct is defective. 
There are many who do not concern themselves at 
all about national affairs ; who do not trouble to 
arrive at any considered judgment with respect to 
them, or to record their votes for the council of the 

Perversion of conduct has been defined as conduct 
prompted })y instinctive desire, but plainly calculated 
to defeat the very end desired ; and, estimated by 
this definition, much political conduct appears to be 



perverted ; for many things arc done, many negotia- 
tions with foreign countries are conducted, much 
legislation is passed, many wars are undertaken, 
with the object and desire of benefiting the State, 
but which are, in result, detrimental and even 
disastrous to it. Such conduct is, however, taken 
out of the category of perverted conduct, by the 
fact that, to the actors, it is not, when it is done, 
plainly detrimental or disastrous to the interest it 
is intended to serve. To them it appears likely to 
be beneficial, though to others its detrimental char- 
acter is plain enough. 

Spontaneous conduct of the character we are 
now considering, may be active or passive, may mean 
exertion or self-restraint ; and the passive or self- 
restraining moiety is as important as the active. 
It is important that every member of a community 
should refrain from acts noxious or detrimental to 
the community ; and though such acts are provided 
against by the efficacy of fear of disapprobation and 
punishment that they incur, it is manifestly a 
greater safeguard to the State, that its members 
should be inherently averse to action of this descrip- 
tion ; and this inherent repulsion is the motive of the 
self-restraining patriotic conduct under consideration. 
In rare cases, this motive is not strong enough to 
prevent conduct antagonistic to the State ; and 
there are cases in which a man directs his conduct 
so as to injure the community to which he belongs. 
Such conduct may be either purely self-seeking, or 
purely self-abnegatory, or some mixture of the two. 
The sordid traitor, who sells his country for a 


pecuniary reward, belongs to one class ; the crazy 
fanatic, who sacrifices his life in the endeavour to 
assassinate the head of the State, or some prominent 
official, to benefit, as he fancies, some class of his 
fellow-countrymen, or to avenge some fancied wrong, 
belongs to the second ; another conspirator who seeks 
to subvert the government, partly in order that a 
better may take its place, and partly in order that 
his own interests may be served thereby, is in an 
intermediate position. 

Self- restraining patriotic conduct is in excess, 
when it leads to abstention from conduct that could 
not possibly injure the State, from fear that injury 
may result. It is not very infrequent, in certain 
cases of insanity, for the patient to refrain from the 
most innocent acts — from eating and drinking, for 
instance — on account of a crazy notion that by so 
doing he would bring disaster upon the nation. 

Philanthropic Conduct 

The aggregate amount of conduct prompted by 
the motive of benefiting sections and classes of the 
community, is enormous. It ranges from the pro- 
vision of workmen's dwellings, and the immense 
ramifications of the Charity Organisation Society, 
to the provision of homes for starving dogs, and 
of temporary relief for cats while their owners are 
away from home. For, with the increase and spread 
of tenderness and sympathy with suffering of all 
kinds, and of all creatures, dogs and cats have been 
admitted to a share in the life of the community, 
and are regarded, in some sort, as fellow-citizens. 


Philanthropic conduct that serves a section of the 
community, is a sort of miniature or local patriotism. 
It seeks to serve, not the State, but some section of 
the State — a county or a town, with all the classes 
therein comprised. The amount of effort that is 
devoted to service on local bodies, by members of 
Town Councils, County Councils, Urban and Rural 
District Councils, and so forth, is enormous and 
incalculable ; and under this head falls the provision 
of local benefits, of parks and recreation grounds, of 
public libraries, museums, and baths, at the expense 
of philanthropic donors. 

Philanthropic conduct that serves a class of the 
community, may affect the class to which the actor 
belongs, and is then a wider self-seeking ; or may 
affect a class alien to that of the actor, and is a purer 
philanthropy. These are the motives that lead to 
the constitution of Trade Unions, Employers Federa- 
tions, and the thousands of charitable societies, from 
the managing committees of hospitals, to homes of 
rest for tired horses ; and that prompts to the 
subscriptions of millions of pounds in charity every 

Philanthropic conduct may be regarded as ex- 
cessive, when the inroads it makes on the time or the 
means of the philanthropist, are so great as to encroach 
on the duty that he owes to himself and his family ; 
it is defective when he selfishly withdraws himself 
from participation in corporate efforts to improve 
the lot of others, while sharing in the benefits they 




The third division of spontaneous social conduct, — 
that which regulates our relations to individual 
fellow-citizens — is by far the most extensive. Like 
the other modes of autogenic or spontaneous conduct, 
it is divided into two sections, the active and the self- 
restraining ; and of these, the latter is by far the 
most important. Without the exertion of active 
beneficence, without the kind offices and acts of 
beneficence that we do for one another, social life 
would be deprived of much of its charm, of much of 
its benefit, of much of its polish ; but it would still 
continue. It would be a grey, cold, selfish society, 
but it would be a society ; and might hold together, 
as a society, indefinitely. There is nothing disruptive 
or disintegrative of society in the absence of active 
benevolence ; and many societies in which it had 
little place, have had a long and prosperous existence. 
But without self- restraining social conduct, society 
would fall to pieces. As already pointed out, in the 
chapter on Elicited Morality, the foundation of social 
life is the self-restraint, the limitation of their own 
freedom of action, on the part of the individual 



members of the society. The imperative condition 
of social life is that tlie individuals of which it is 
composed, should not encroach upon the sphere of 
activity proper to each or any of their fellows. We 
have seen how this condition is upheld and safe- 
guarded })y the powerful influence of the approbation 
that is awarded to it, and the disapprobation that is 
incurred by its infringement. But a morality that is 
wholly dependent on the approbation and disapproba- 
tion of others, is a precarious and incomplete morality. 
It would permit the perpetration of acts and omissions 
of the most immoral character, if they could be per- 
petrated without discovery. The preservation of 
society would depend on the perpetual vigilance 
exercised by all upon each ; and no one who was out 
of sight, could be trusted to act with integrity. A 
morality so enforced would be precarious and un- 
satisfactory. It would be frequently infringed ; and 
the society that was so preserved from the disin- 
tegrating effects of private and internecine aggression, 
would avail little in competition with one in which 
such disintegration had the additional safeguard, of 
an inherent disinclination on the part of each to 
encroach upon the legitimate freedom of the rest. 

Hence, in the competition of communities with 
each other, it has happened that those in which there 
was any rudiment of this inherent self-control have 
prevailed over those in which it was absent ; and 
those in which it was present in greater degree, 
have prevailed over those less copiously endowed ; 
and we are now arrived at a state of society in which 
most individuals have an inherent and spontaneous 

244 CONDUCT book h 

repulsion, partly innate, partly tlie result of inculcation, 
against those encroachments on the liberty of others 
that constitute acts of immorality. We avoid, not 
merely to escape disapprobation, but because it is 
inherently distasteful to us, action that interferes, to 
the detriment of our neighbour, with any department 
of his conduct. We avoid interference with his direct 
self-conservation — with his life- worthiness ; with the 
earning of his livelihood ; with his family and social 
relations ; with his recreation, his religion, and with 
the legitimate satisfaction of his curiosity. 

Most of the self-restraints, that should characterise 
our dealings with our neighbours, are summarised in 
the decalogue ; and it will be remembered that every 
one of the commandments, that concern our duty to 
our neighbour, is prohibitory. Most of the trans- 
gressions that are inconsistent with good citizenship 
are prohibited, either explicitly or by implication, in 
the decalogue ; but the active side of our neighbourly 
activities is altogether ignored therein. As to the 
second order of spontaneous social acts, — those by 
which we promote the welfare of our fellows, not 
merely passively, by refraining from aggressive 
action, but actively, by assisting them to attain 
their ends — these are not mentioned in the decalogue. 
As to them, the old dispensation is dumb : but for 
the merely self- restraining moiety of spontaneous 
social conduct, we may take the decalogue for our 
guide, expanding its provisions to exhibit all that 
they may fairly be taken to imply. 


Self-restraining Spontaneous Morality 

'Thou shalt do no murder.' This brief prohibi- 
tion must, for the practical purposes of social life, 
be expanded to prohibit every mode of action that 
diminishes the life-worthiness of others. Not only 
may we not do murder by violence, but we may not 
maim our neighbour, we may not break his limbs, or 
blacken his eye, or assault him in any way. Not 
only may we not wilfully do him physical injury, 
but we are bound so to limit and restrain our action, 
that we may not put him in danger, by recklessness, 
or carelessness, or negligence. Not only may we not 
wilfully poison him, but, if we have the handling of 
poisons, we are bound to exercise every precaution 
that they may not fall into the hands of the ignorant 
or the unskilful. Not only must we refrain from 
wilfully communicating infection to our neighbour, 
but we must be careful lest he should be inadvertently 
infected. Whatever sanitation is within our control, 
must not be neglected, but kept in a state of eflBciency, 
lest others should suffer by our default. Such pits 
and ponds as constitute a danger to wayfarers, must 
be fenced. Precautions must be taken against fire. 
If we undertake the supply or preparation of food, 
we must see that it is pure and wholesome. In every 
direction in which our action affects the life-worthiness 
of others, we are bound so to exercise it, that not 
merely their lives, but their health, may not be 

Defect in one or other of these modes of conduct 
is unfortunately frequent enough, either from want 


of knowledge, from want of forethought, from care- 
lessness, from selfishness, and lack of consideration 
for the claims of others, or from deliberate design in 
the interest of self; and these several motives mark 
increasing degrees of turpitude. Among the insane, 
conduct tending to the injury of others is frequent, 
though it is much less frequent than people unac- 
quainted with the insane are apt to suppose. Actual 
assaults upon others by insane persons, are by no 
means frequent events. The majority of them are 
committed by paranoiacs, who are, as already stated, 
in a constant state of exasperation at the persecutions 
to which they suppose themselves to be subject, and 
are on the one hand, prone to express their resentment 
by physical violence, and on the other, are by no 
means discriminating as to the person upon whom 
the violence shall be exercised. If upon a person 
whom they suppose to be concerned in the persecu- 
tion, so much the better ; but if such a person is not 
at hand, or cannot be identified, any one will serve 
as a whipping boy ; and the assault, if undeserved by 
him, will at any rate attract notice, and so give 
the paranoiac a chance of ventilating his grievances. 
Generally, the effect of insanity is to weaken self- 
control, and to reduce the sufferer from it to a lower 
level of civilisation ; and thus it is natural that acts 
of violence should be more frequently perpetrated by 
the insane than by the sane ; though, as has been 
said, this proclivity is much exaggerated in the minds 
of the public. The inherent selfishness, which also 
is a part of the general degradation of mind that 
occurs in insanity, leads to acts of aggression, and 


especially to licence in conduct, that may easily 
become dangerous to others ; and the lack of fore 
thought, and inability to realise the natural conse- 
quences of action, that results from intellectual 
deficiency, is another reason that the conduct of 
the insane is apt to be dangerous, even if not 
wilfully dangerous, to others. They are no more 
to be trusted with dangerous appliances, with fire, 
or poison, or weapons, or sharp instruments, than 
children ; and for the same reason — that they do 
not appreciate the potentialities for mischief that 
reside in such appliances. 

Conduct in restraint of injury to others is some- 
times excessive. There is a variety of insanity in 
which the patient regards himself as a source of 
infection, or of some other mode of injury, to others, 
and regulates his conduct accordingly ; living in 
isolation, and refusing to associate with others, for 
fear of communicating the infection ; and there are 
others who are so convinced that whatever they do 
or say is noxious and pestilential to those they love, 
or to those around them, that they refuse communica- 
tion with others, and even attempt suicide, to avoid 
inflicting the injury they dread. 

In rare cases, the instinct which bids us care for 
the safety of those around us, and do nothing to 
imperil their lives, is reversed ; and we see the 
gruesome spectacle of an instinctive murderer, who 
takes life for the mere sake of taking life, and with 
no motive ulterior to the satisfaction derived from 
the act. Such a mode of conduct seems incredible, 
but there are cases in which it has been established 


beyond doubt. One after another, the patients of a 
certain professional nurse died while under her hands. 
Her very presence in a house seemed fatal. She was 
a most capable, assiduous, and devoted nurse. She 
nursed her patients with the utmost solicitude ; they 
became much attached to her, and she to them ; but 
whomsoever she nursed, even if their illnesses did 
not appear to be serious when she joined them, 
invariably died. More than forty persons thus met 
their death before she was suspected ; but at length 
the inference was inescapable. Poison was looked 
for, and was found. The nurse was placed on her 
trial, and the evidence was overwhelmingly clear ; 
but what puzzled the court and the country was 
that no motive was apparent. She gained nothing 
by the deaths. Many of the victims were her 
benefactors ; and for some of them she had professed, 
and had appeared to feel, a close and steady friend- 
ship for years. These considerations led to her 
reprieve on the ground of insanity ; though she 
was to all appearance sane, and no other indication 
of insanity was manifested by her. She was 
relegated to a lunatic asylum, and in a few years 
became deeply and hopelessly insane. 

' Thou shalt not steal.' The next respect in which 
every member of a community is bound and obliged 
to limit his own action, is with respect to the means 
of livelihood of his fellows. He must so order his 
own conduct, as not to embarrass his fellows in the 
administration of their means and the earning of 
their livelihood. The decaloguic prohibition from 
stealing, like the prohibition from murder, is but 


the type and example of a multitude of cognate 
prohibitions. He must not only refrain from steal- 
ing ; he must, in the language of the catechism, be 
true and just in all his dealings. Not only must he 
not deprive his neighbour of money or goods, either 
by stealth, force, or fraud, but he must not seek to 
prevent or hinder his neighbour from the honest 
acquisition of wealth. He must not put obstacles in 
the way ; and to this end, he must refrain from 
unfavourable comment upon him. He must abstain, 
again in the words of the decalogue, from bearing 
false witness, and in those of the catechism, from 
evil -speaking, lying, and slandering. He must 
abjure, not only the thousand tortuous ways of 
dishonest acquisition, but the ways, almost equally 
numerous, and equally tortuous, of unjust disparage- 
ment. Nor is this the limit of the restraint which 
social life demands of each individual who partakes 
in it. He must respect the liberty of other people 
in the administration of their means. Even if he 
does not propose himself to profit by doing so, he 
must not tempt them into gambling and reckless 
speculation. He must not persuade them to ex- 
penditure that is beyond their proper capacity, and 
disproportionate to their means ; neither must he 
encourage them in undue parsimony. 

Defect in the restraints of this class, are but too 
frequently advertised in the records of criminal and 
coroners' courts. Prosecutions for the many forms 
of stealing ; actions for libel, and slander ; suicides, 
the result of gambling, to which the unhappy victim 
has been tempted by insidious companions, or noxious 


publications ; are but too frequent ; and show that, 
in spite of thousands and tens of thousands of years 
of social life, man is, as yet, imperfectly adapted to 
the social state. The true balance between the self- 
regarding instincts and the social instincts is not yet 
reached. The former had many millions of years' 
start of the latter, and the instincts later acquired 
have not yet gained their fair share of influence in 
the regulation of conduct. 

A too punctilious regard for the property of 
others, an excess of abstention from interfering with 
it or encroaching upon it, is extremely rare ; but 
cases are not wanting. When Miss Matty lost her 
property, and was reduced to keeping a little shop, 
she would persist in giving the children over-w^eight 
of sweets for their money ; and when it w^as repre- 
sented to her that sweets were unwholesome for the 
children, she merely added peppermint or ginger 
lozenges to counteract the ill effects. It must be 
admitted, however, that such excess of self-restraint 
is rare. 

Non-interference with our neighbours' social 
relations, demands that we shall refrain from action 
that shall depreciate him in the opinion of his 
fellows, or cause him embarrassment in their presence. 
If he is shy, we shall not accentuate his shyness by 
making him the focus of attention ; if he stumbles 
in addressing an audience, we shall not jeer at him ; 
if he perpetrates a breach of etiquette, we shall not 
make him feel it ; if he is unpopular, W' e shall not 
add to his unpopularity. Evil speaking is to be 
added to the taboo. One of the marks of high breed- 


ing is said to be the capability of putting people at 
their ease, that is to say, of relieving them of all 
feeling of embarrassment ; and it appears, therefore, 
that by high breeding we mean, in this connection at 
least, a high degree of adaptation to the social state. 

Defect in conduct of this description is frequent 
enough. The want of tact of a blundering oaf is 
very aj)t to cause embarrassment, by drawing atten- 
tion to the very matter that some one present desires 
to conceal ; and few people have sufficient self- 
restraint to refrain from repeating a racy story, even 
though it reflects u^Don an acquaintance. Such sins 
are venial ; but not venial is the backbiting which 
deliberately and intentionally seeks to discredit a 
neighbour with his or her fellows, from the motive of 
envy, or of gaining momentary distinction as the 
bearer of news. Excess also, of restraint in this 
respect is to be deprecated, and for obvious reasons. 
If I am asked, in good faith and for suflicient reason, 
as to the trustworthiness of this man or that woman, 
I am bound and obliged to tell all I know to the dis- 
credit, as well as the credit, of the person concerned. 
If I do not, I do injustice to the applicant, by leading 
him to place trust in a person who is untrustworthy. 
Upon this consideration is founded the legal doctrine 
of privilege. 

Neither may we give such rein to our conduct as 
to impair the sanctity of our neighbours' family 
relations. The seventh commandment is but one of 
the prohibitions against such interference. Not only 
may a man not seduce his neighbour's wife, but he 
must refrain from such conduct as may cause strife 


between husband and wife, between parent and child. 
He must not speak or act so as to impair the mutual 
esteem and affection of husband and wife, the respect 
of the child for his parents, or the love and protection 
of the parent for the child. Any such action is 
destructive of family ties, and it is the family, not 
the individual, that is the true unit of society. But 
our abstention from interference in family life must 
go further than this. The New Testament gives to 
the seventh commandment an extension similar to 
that which the tenth gives to the eighth ; but the 
extension is not extensive enough. The unit of 
society is the family ; the basis of the family is 
chastity ; and the foundation of chastity is purity of 
thought. The prohibition of the seventh command- 
ment is therefore incomplete, unless and until there is 
read into it a prohibition, not merely of entertaining 
unchaste thoughts towards this or that person, but 
against corrupting the purity of the minds of others 
by foul stories and suggestions. 

Self-restraint in conduct, towards the marital and 
parental relations of others, is upon the whole well 
observed in the great bulk of the population. The 
danger of interfering between husband and wife is 
notorious ; and, although the divorce court finds its 
time fully occupied, the proportion of the population 
that has recourse to its relief, is, in this country, 
insignificantly small. In those countries, as in some 
of the United States, in which divorces are more 
numerous, it is not because adultery is more common, 
but because divorce is granted for other reasons than 
that of adultery. Neither is self-restraint ill observed 



ill the matter of interference between parents and 
children ; and in these respects, defect of conduct is 
not frequent ; but in the matter of foul conversation 
and pornographic literature, there is much licence ; 
and in these respects the conduct of many is very 
defective. Of late years, there has come into 
existence an amount of pornographic literature that 
pretends to be scientific ; that under the guise of 
science, panders to the beastliest inclinations in man ; 
and that, in consequence of its disguise as science, is 
able to escape the destructive ministrations of the 
modern representative of the hangman. 

The next mode of action that comes under review, 
is that concerned in the exercises of religion ; and 
application of the rule that we are now considering, 
demands that we do not interfere to restrain others 
in whatever exercise of religion their consciences 
dictate. This rule of conduct is of very recent 
recognition, and one that is even now not universally 
admitted. We have just (August 1910) witnessed 
the solemn intervention of the Parliament of the 
nation in the religious conduct of the Sovereign, and 
the imposition upon him of a compulsory religious 
formula. It is but a couple of centuries since a 
compulsory religious formula was imposed upon 
every citizen in the nation ; since one who neglected 
to attend the services of the national Church incurred 
a penalty for his neglect ; and since the repetition of 
a prescribed religious formula was compulsory on 
every holder of civic office, from the Lord Chancellor 
to the parish constable. Little by little these legal 
provisions have been relaxed ; and now the Sovereign 


and tlie Lord Chancellor are tlie only civic officials 
thus interfered with ; but long after the legal obliga- 
tion was abolished, coercion was exercised by opinion, 
and by the disapprobation expressed towards those 
whose religious exercises differed from the exercises 
of the majority. Nor were this coercion, and the 
legal coercion that it replaced, without justification. 
We are pleased to assume an attitude of superiority 
towards our ancestors, and to regard them as bigoted 
and benighted in their religious intolerance ; but, in 
doing so, we forget that circumstances alter cases. 
Apart from the special political circumstances of our 
own country, in which the threatening attitude of a 
foreign power rendered it necessary for us to safe- 
guard ourselves by provisions of the kind, the 
considerations set forth above, in the chapters on 
Custom and Fashion, must always be borne in mind. 
Until a very advanced stage of society is reached, it 
is vital to the existence of a community that 
uniformity of conduct should prevail within it. 
Multiformity of conduct is directly disintegratory, 
as has been shown ; and unless it is suppressed, the 
community, in which variety of conduct is allowed 
to prevail, will either disperse of its own motion, 
or will be so weakened as to fall an easy prey to 
some community that is more rigidly and stably 
constituted. Until a substitute of equal binding 
power arises and prevails in the community, it is a 
condition of its existence that uniformity of conduct 
should prevail ; and if it do not prevail by the 
natural inclination of the citizens to conform with 
custom and fashion, it must be enforced by punitive 


measures. Toleration in religion is of late appearance, 
because, until lately, it could not have been permitted 
without danger to the State. It is said that every 
country has the Jews that it deserves. It is true 
that every country has the degree of toleration in 
religion that it deserves. Until the growth of 
sympathy, and the binding force of goodwill towards 
each other of the several members of the community, 
have attained a strenorth renderinor them substitut- 
able for the binding force of custom ; until the growth 
of self-restraint has enabled an internal coercion over 
self-regarding conduct to take the place of external 
coercion ; it is not safe for the community to neglect 
any means by which the self-regarding conduct of 
individuals may be subordinated to the common 
welfare, and by which all may be made to act in 
unison, without regard to individual inclination. 
This is the reason that toleration in matters of 
religion is of such late appearance. 

At the present day, however, such toleration may 
safely be allowed in Western nations ; and as it is 
become safe, so it is become the practice. Even the 
Churches themselves, with the sole exception of the 
Roman Catholic Church, formally admit the practice 
of toleration ; though, perhaps, it would not be very 
safe to allow any of them the power of suppressing 
it. Looking at the matter from the point of view of 
the citizen, and the student of conduct, however, we 
see that liberty of action of each is to be allowed, up 
to the extreme point at which it begins to encroach 
upon the liberty of action of all, provided that the 
safety of all is not thereby imperilled ; and, since 


there are now in existence cohesive forces sufficient 
to keep society together without the binding influence 
of religious uniformity, this uniformity may safely 
be abandoned ; and it is no longer necessary for 
the welfare of the State, and therefore no longer 
justifiable, to interfere with the religious exercises of 

We may not, then, interfere to restrict the 
religious exercises of other people ; and it follows 
that we may not restrict the expressions of their 
opinion on religious matters ; but may we restrict 
the expression of opinion in any respect ? This is a 
thesis that has often been argued, and men of the 
highest intellect, and of the purest morality, have 
advocated different views with respect to it. It 
seems to me that these eminent moralists, such as 
Dr. Johnson on the one side, and J. S. Mill on the 
other, have not sufficiently distinguished between 
the expression of opinion as to what is, on the one 
hand, and the advocacy of modes of conduct on the 
other. To the expression of opinion as to what is, 
or may be, even if it concerns the existence and 
attributes of the Deity, I can see no objection ; but 
the advocacy of a course of conduct stands on different 
ground. If there are many acts that a member of a 
community may not do, and that, if he do not 
voluntarily restrain himself from, he may rightly be 
prevented hj force majeure from doing, then it seems 
to me illogical and absurd to permit him to advocate 
the doing of these acts. If a man may not murder 
or steal, then, equally, he may not advocate murder 
or stealing ; and if he may rightly be prevented 


by force majeure from murder and stealing, and 
punished if he does murder or steal, then it seems to 
me to follow, of necessity, that he may be prevented 
from advocating murder or stealing, and punished 
if he does advocate them. But I see nothing in this 
reasoning to deter him from discussing what killing 
is murder, or what taking away of property is 
stealing. This is a distinction that is not always 
recognised. A man should not, it seems to me, be 
punished for writing a book on ' Killing no Murder ' ; 
but he may rightly be punished for suggesting the 
practice of murder. He should not be restrained from 
his endeavours to show that taking away from other 
people their land or their property is not dishonest ; 
but he may rightly be restrained from, and punished 
for, advocating the taking of their land or property, 
until the public conscience is convinced that there 
is no dishonesty in the practice. In the scheme of 
nature, the individual is, as has been shown, of no 
account in comparison with the race. The individual 
is a mere means of continuing the race, and is 
ruthlessly sacrificed to the welfare of the race. And 
in the community also, the welfare of the individual 
is nothing, in comparison with that of the community 
at large. The community must not, and does not, 
hesitate to sacrifice the individual for its own welfare. 
It is bound, however, to take care that the principle 
on which the individual is sacrificed, is not inimical 
to the community itself The community has, and 
ought to have, no hesitation in sacrificing its 
individual members in war, or for treason ; but it 
must be careful not to sacrifice them, not to allow 



them to suffer any disadvantage, on a principle 
which, as society is constituted, would be dangerous 
to its existence. If it does so, it does so at its 
own peril ; and the struggle for existence between 
communities, will ensure the destruction of any 
community that makes a mistake in this respect. 
Thus, it seems to me right, that is to say, desirable 
for the welfare of the community, that the advocacy 
of practices which appear to be destructive of 
common life, should be punished and suppressed ; 
but wrong to punish or suppress the discussion of 
what is and what is not advantageous or dis- 
advantageous to the community. 

On this principle, it appears to me that, with 
respect to the expression of opinion as to what is, 
tolerance is right and intolerance wrong ; but with 
respect to advocacy of action that appears to be 
inimical to the community, intolerance is right and 
tolerance is wrong. I have said action that appears 
to be inimical to the community, and the obvious 
retort is, appears to whom ? Why, to the community 
itself; and in the community it is the dominant will 
that prevails. It is not necessarily the will of the 
majority, for in many matters the majority exerts no 
will. In medieval times, the power of the nation 
was exerted, now by an individual, now by an 
oligarchy, now by an institution — the Church — 
and the mass of the nation took no part in com- 
mon life, but that of obeying the behests of the 
dominant one or few, in as far as these behests 
were consistent with custom. But somewhere in 
every community there resides a dominant will ; and 


this will it is, that exerts the governance for the 
time being. In modern democracies, the dominant 
will resides in the majority, and the majority does 
what it pleases. 

The same principle of non-intervention in the 
conduct of others, applies to recreation, and. to the 
research of curiosity. Time was when certain re- 
creations were forbidden. The Puritans abolished 
play-acting and bear-baiting ; and even now, the 
law forbids prize-fighting and cock-fighting ; and the 
latter are rightly forbidden, from the point of view 
here taken. This principle forbids us to limit, by 
our own action, the action of others, so long as what 
they do is innocuous to the community, or to any 
part of it. If the Puritans discountenanced play- 
acting, we must not forget that many of the plays of 
that date were licentious in the extreme, and fostered 
a dissolution of family relations, which is destructive 
to the State. If bear-baiting and cock-fighting are 
prohibited in a more humane age, it is because the 
extension of sympathy with suffering has led to the 
inclusion within our social sympathies, as outlying 
appendages to the community, of the lower animals, 
whose sensitiveness to pain, we infer, resembles our 
own. We may rightly restrict such recreations as 
foster an anti-social spirit in those who take part in 
them ; and for this reason it is justifiable to suppress 
prize-fighting, licentious plays and books, and exhibi- 
tions of cruelty. It is the binding force of sympathy 
that takes the place of the more galling bonds of 
primitive society ; and, as those bonds have been 
relaxed, we cannot afford to allow any influence to 


exist which tends to weaken that which has taken 
their place. 

Lastly, we may not restrict the research of 
curiosity. There is now no region of possible human 
inquiry, on the boundary of which we find the notice 
that trespassers will be prosecuted ; but these notice- 
boards have been but recently removed. From what 
has already been said, it will be seen that it does not 
at all follow that the restrictions imposed on research 
by the Church, were not salutary at the time they 
were imposed. If not themselves salutary, they 
were inseparable parts of a system that was not 
merely salutary, but necessary, for the preservation 
of the then social state. All difference of opinion is, 
as has been shown, incipiently disintegratory ; and, 
when the binding force that keeps society together, 
is not the interstitial cohesion of sympathy and 
tenderness, but coercion from above — a far more 
precarious agency — the disintegrating effect of 
difference of opinion is of great moment. Its centri- 
fugal action between man and man, not being 
counteracted by the gravitation of sympathy, would 
overpower mere pressure from without, and cannot, 
therefore, be permitted to exist. However much we 
may deplore the suppression of the researches of 
Eoger Bacon, of Bruno, of Galileo, and of many 
another pioneer and martyr of Science, we cannot but 
recognise that scientific research is harmless in highly 
organised communities only ; and that the first 
necessity for a community is its own preservation. 
If Roger Bacon and Bruno, and other rare spirits of 
early times, who were so much in advance of those 


times, had beeu permitted to carry on, unchecked, 
the researches which so attracted them, and have 
made their names immortal, it is possible, nay it is 
probable, that the result would have been a division 
of opinion that would have been altogether destruc- 
tive of the communities in which they lived ; and 
that, for every century that discovery was retarded 
by the destruction of their labours, a millennium 
would have elapsed, ere knowledge would have 
reached its present state of advancement. 

Active Spontaneous Morality 

The last phase of social conduct that is to be 
considered, is that by which we seek, not, as in 
those considered in the last section, to refrain from 
undue interference with the liberty of our neighbours 
to pursue their own inclinations, but actively to 
assist them in this endeavour. This, I repeat, is the 
lesson in which the dispensation of the New Testa- 
ment supplements the dispensation of the old. The 
decalogue, in as far as it defines our duty to our 
neighbour, is purely prohibitory. It prescribes what 
we may not do to him, but it says no word of active 
assistance. The new commandment is, ' Heal the 
sick ; cleanse the lepers ; raise the dead ; cast out 
devils ; preach the gospel to the poor.' In other 
words, our attitude to our neighbours is to be one, 
not merely of negative abstention from injury, but 
of active beneficence. We are to assist him in the 
conservation of his life, in the earning of his liveli- 
hood and the administration of his means, in gaining 

262 CONDUCT book n 

tlie esteem, approval, and love of his fellows, in rearing 
his children, in satisfying his curiosity, in satisfying 
his religious aspirations, and in obtaining opportunity 
for the exercise of his faculties generally. 

There are two main methods by which the welfare 
of others is aided. It is aided directly, by conduct 
addressed to this end, in individual cases ; and it 
is aided indirectly or vicariously, by the provision of 
funds to enable others to give assistance. Further, 
there is assistance given to others ad hoc, as occasion 
arises, when they are in manifest difficulty, and their 
straits appeal irresistibly to our sympathy ; and 
there is the organisation of a mechanism for giving 
assistance whenever the need for assistance may arise. 
In the first case, the aid is usually given directly ; in 
the second, more usually indirectly, or vicariously. 

The sympathetic impulse to aid others in preserv- 
ing their lives, is a very deeply rooted and wide- 
spread social instinct. It is shared with man by 
many of the social animals, though in the less 
organised animal societies it seems to be wanting. 
There are many well authenticated stories of help 
given to one another, in circumstances of danger and 
difiiculty, by baboons, monkeys, rats, cattle, and even 
birds ; but other social animals — wolves, for instance, 
and hamsters, will fall upon a wounded comrade, tear 
him to pieces, and devour him. In the human race, 
and, indeed, in other social animals, the instinct is 
particularly developed towards the young ; and it is 
easy to see that the development of this instinctive 
desire has a direct bearing upon the ultimate motive 
of all conduct — the continuation of the race. If 


society is to be preserved, and the race is to flourish, 
sedulous care must be taken to preserve the young ; 
and hence we find that a child that has temporarily 
or permanently lost its parents, finds a protector in 
every adult. Every one will snatch a child out of 
danger ; feed it if it is hungry ; wrap it up against 
the cold ; seek out its natural guardians if it has 
strayed ; and protect it against the consequences of 
its own inexperience and want of foresight. That 
protection and cherishing which is primarily bestowed 
upon the weakness of the child, becomes, by an easy 
process, transferred to the weak adult. Women, and 
the old of both sexes, are treated with tenderness. 
As far as they are concerned, part, at any rate, of 
the fierce competition and struggle for existence is 
suspended. They are not elbowed out of the way as 
a man would be, but way is made for them ; and we 
stand aside to let them take the easiest paths. The 
same tenderness is extended towards those who have 
strayed into danger, or become weakened from illness 
or accident. We do not look with indifierence upon 
him who is drowning ; or leave lying on the road the 
man who has been run over ; or leave by the way- 
side him who has fallen among thieves. We succour 
and help them according to their several necessities, 
urged thereto by the instinctive sympathetic desire, 
that is now under consideration. If it is true, as 
Meg Merrilies declares, that death quits all scores, 
equally true is it that severe illness suspends all 
antagonism. The illness, even of an enemy, demands 
a suspension of hostilities ; the illness of a friend calls 
out all our sympathies, and evokes action to help 

264 CONDUCT book n 

him ; the illness of a stranger, if he is within the 
sphere of our action, elicits from us kindly offices, 
even if they are limited to sympathetic inquiries 

The aid that is given to others in the matter of 
livelihood, is apt to be restricted by the fierceness of 
the competition for livelihood that obtains in most 
societies ; but we are always glad to be of assistance, 
in this respect, to those whose competition we do not 
fear; and, to those whose means of livelihood altogether 
fail, especially if the failure is from no fault of their 
own, assistance is freely rendered. In nothing is the 
Christian doctrine more emphatic than in inculcating 
the duty of relieving the necessities of the poor ; and 
in no other direction is the sympathetic action of 
mankind more widely diffused, or more deeply 
engaged. The amount of money alone that is dis- 
tributed annually in this country, in relief of distress, 
is staggering ; and in personal service, the labour 
thus expended is enormous. 

In the foregoing respects, the duty of every one to 
contribute actively to the welfare of his fellows, is 
well recognised ; and is, on the whole, very well ful- 
filled ; but the next class of active duties — that of 
assisting our neighbours socially — is not so well 
appreciated. Yet if, as is universally allowed, it is 
our duty to help our neighbour in the one respect, 
I see no reason why it should not be equally re- 
cognised as a duty to help him in the other. It will 
surely be admitted that to secure the estimation, the 
approval, and the liking of our fellows, are conditions 
of the very highest importance to our well-being ; 


and if it is our duty to our neighbours to assist their 
well-being in the matters of rescue from danger, pre- 
servation of health, and prevention of starvation, I 
see nothing to excuse us from the duty of forwarding 
their welfare by aiding them to secure the apprecia- 
tion of their fellows. If a man's conduct is such 
that it earns him our esteem, our approbation, or our 
liking, we owe to him the duty of expressing our 
applause, our approval, or our liking, as the case may 
be. Our appreciation is to be expressed freely and 
ungrudgingly, and is not to be suppressed or re- 
stricted on account of any hostility that we may feel 
towards him. More than this, we owe him, — in less 
degree, but we owe him, — the duty, not merely of 
expressing our appreciation, but of contradicting un- 
favourable criticism of him, if we regard it as untrue 
or unfair. Whether we are or are not bound to go 
beyond this, and make known to others, facts which 
would secure their appreciation also of him, must 
depend on time, place, and circumstance. We need 
not send the bellman round to proclaim his virtues ; 
but we may, and ought, if occasion arises, to say 
what we can in his favour. 

In the remaining departments of conduct, the 
obligation of assisting our fellows lies lightly upon 
us. We do not often have the opportunity of assist- 
ing people in their marital or parental relations, nor 
in aiding them in matters of religion. Churlishness 
in respect of withholding information in satisfac- 
tion of their legitimate curiosity, is not a frequent 
failing ; and most people possess sufficient good 
nature to take part in those recreations that are 


desired by others, but cannot be pursued without 

Active beneficence is, unhappily, often deficient. 
Widespread and deeply fixed as is the desire to 
cherish the young, and to preserve them from danger, 
the fact that some communities recognise a settled 
practice of infanticide, shows that it is not universal. 
Wide and deep as is the instinctive chivalry towards 
woman and old age, the existence of communities 
in which women are but slaves, and the old are 
slaughtered as useless incumbrances, shows us that 
the instinct is of late origin, and therefore not very 
firmly ingrained. The weak and ailing are cherished 
and protected, it is true, but the pity with which 
they are regarded is not always free from contempt ; 
and we see of how late origin the protective instinct 
towards them is, when we note how children despise, 
and even jeer at, the deformed ; towards whom, 
indeed, most people experience an instinctive re- 
pulsion, of which they are ashamed, and which 
they overcome ; but which, nevertheless, has to be 

Much discussion has taken place, of late years, as 
to the uneconomic and uneugenic results of the 
sedulous care that is taken of those who are bodily 
or mentally unfit to struggle for their own existence, 
and are a mere burden upon the society to which 
they belong. From time to time, radical proposals 
are made to deal with this burden by means of lethal 
chambers, and other drastic measures ; but such pro- 
posals ignore the deeply rooted sympathy, which is so 
characteristic and so vitally important a quality in 


social humanity ; and all such proposals are fore- 
doomed to failure. Nevertheless, it is well to re- 
member that in any direction conduct may be 
pushed to excess, and that whatever excess of care 
and luxury are lavished upon the unfit, is lavished 
at the expense of the fit, whose fitness is diminished, 
or at least is kept below what is possible, thereby. 

If we review these chapters on Social Conduct, we 
find that by far the greater part of the conduct that 
is imposed upon us by our membership of an organised 
community, may be summed up in the single word — 
Eenunciation. To share the advantages of common 
life in any degree ; to taste the sweets of companion- 
ship ; to gain the advantage of common action against 
enemies ; of protection in helplessness ; of nurture 
in sickness ; of nourishing in poverty and starvation ; 
to enjoy the delights of being approved, admired, 
applauded, loved ; to attain the rarer and more 
refined satisfaction of rendering services to others ; to 
participate in the luxuries and glories of an advanced 
civilisation ; for all these advantages a price must 
be paid, and the price -is renunciation. In many re- 
spects, every member of a community must renounce 
his liberty of action. He may no longer comport 
himself with the freedom and abandon that would 
be allowable to a solitary man. He must restrain 
himself in every direction, and on every occasion, in 
which he is associated with his fellows ; and a con- 
siderable share of his labours must be diverted from 
the service of his own individual welfare, to the 
service of the community to which he belongs. 

268 CONDUCT book n 

Although social life is of incalculable service to 
every individual who partakes in it, yet we must 
recognise that, to a considerable extent, and in con- 
siderable degree, social life is inimical, is even 
antagonistic, to individual life. On balance, indeed, 
the advantage, to the individual, of membership of a 
community, is incalculable ; but the advantage is on 
balance only. It does not extend through and 
through. The advantage must be paid for, and the 
reckoning is sometimes heavy. Moreover, it does 
not fall with equal incidence upon all, nor is the 
reckoning to be paid by any means proportionate to 
the benefit received. Those who obtain the greatest 
advantages from social life, sometimes get off scot- 
free ; those who benefit least by it, have, in some 
cases, to pay most heavily for advantages that go 
mainly to others. The incapable, the feeble in body 
and mind, the drone, and the waster, enjoy very 
many of the advantages of social life, and contribute, 
in return, nothing to the advance, the security, the 
stability, or the welfare of the community that 
supports them. The reward of the toiler is by no 
means proportionate to the arduousness of his toil. 
It depends on many other considerations. For this 
reason, a certain proportion of every community is 
discontented, restless, and desirous to change, or even 
to subvert, the existing social order ; and the history 
of nations, in as far as it is not a history of external 
strife, is a history of internal strife — of efforts to 
distribute the advantages of social life, sometimes 
with greater evenness, sometimes with more reference 
to the exertions which make social life possible. 


Greater evenness of the distribution of social benefits 
is slowly being attained. More and more, the social 
advantages, of freedom from the fear of starvation, 
education, transport from place to place, security of 
life, liberty, and property, of rights and privileges 
of every description, of luxuries even, are becoming 
generally and more evenly diffused throughout all 
classes of the community. But the classes remain ; 
and every member of every class is dissatisfied with 
his position, and desires to rise higher in his class, 
or to rise into a higher class than his own. Such 
ambition is, on balance, salutary and beneficial to the 
community ; for, if every member of the community 
rises in the scale, the community as a whole rises, 
not merely in the scale of communities, but in an 
absolute sense. But the gain is still on balance only. 
It is accompanied by drawbacks, and one great and 
manifest drawback is the instability that is of necessity 
produced by restlessness and change. Hence, those 
who are impressed by the unequal distribution of 
wealth and other advantages, are for ever striving 
towards what seems to them greater justice ; and 
those who recognise the danger of instability and 
change, are for ever opposing and minimising change; 
and the resultant of the opposing forces is altogether 
salutary. The one tendency assures a constant 
advance towards a juster distribution ; the other 
secures that the advance shall be well considered, 
gradual, and attended with the least disturbance of 
stability and danger of disintegration. 

To the race, and, in the scheme of nature, it 
is the race alone that counts, the welfare of the 

270 CONDUCT book h 

community is paramount over the welfare of the 
individual. If, therefore, the community is to sur- 
vive, its citizens must be prepared to sacrifice, not 
only that moiety of their personal liberty that we 
have seen to be a necessary condition to social life, 
but, upon occasion, everything else, to the welfare of 
the community. They must be prepared to sacrifice 
luxuries, comfort, necessaries ; to undergo hardship, 
toil, privation ; to incur starvation, disease, the 
extremes of heat and cold, wounds and death itself, 
if the welfare of the community demands it. Hence, 
the welfare of the community and that of the 
individual are always to some degree opposed, and, 
on occasion, may become incompatible. When that 
occasion arises, it is necessary, for the survival of the 
race, that the individual should give way, and submit 
to be sacrificed for the welfare of the community. 
Renunciation, while always in some measure an 
element in, and a condition to, social life, is now and 
then demanded to the uttermost; and, unless the 
individual is prepared to pay the uttermost price, 
the community must perish, and with it must perish 
the stirp. Now, each course of conduct — that which 
serves the welfare and survival of the individual, and 
that which serves the welfare and survival of the 
community — has its own set of instinctive desires, 
which prompt to the appropriate conduct ; and since 
the several modes of conduct are always to some 
extent opposed ; and since, on occasion, this opposition 
rises to actual incompatibility ; the instincts also are 
opposed, and become, on occasion, incompatible. 
Of the two sets of instincts, the self-regarding are 


immeasurably older than the social, and, on that 
account, are the stronger. Yet for a time, which 
also is immeasurably great, although, in comparison 
with the duration of the self-regarding instincts, it is 
insignificant, the social instincts have been the more 
important. For no individual is indispensable to 
the survival of the society to which he belongs ; but 
the society is indispensable to the survival of every 
individual it contains. Therefore, when the two 
instincts, the self-regarding and the social, rise into 
acute antagonism, and become incompatible, it is 
essential to the survival of the stirp — the ultimate 
aim of all organic life — that the social instinct should 
preponderate over the self- regarding. The self- 
regarding instincts, being of so much greater antiquity, 
are naturally the stronger ; consequently, if the social 
instincts are to prevail over them, it is advisable, it 
may even be necessary, that the social should be 
reinforced by artificial or quasi-artificial aids ; and 
this we find to be the case. Pure patriotism — the 
mere desire to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the 
community — is not yet become a sufficiently power- 
ful motive, in most natures, to overcome the desire 
for self-preservation. Hence it is reinforced by other 
motives, some of which are innate instincts, others 
inculcated under supernatural sanctions. Of the 
soldiers who fight gallantly for their country, a small 
proportion only are animated by pure patriotism. 
The larger number are actuated by the motives of 
emulation, of desire for admiration, of desire to avoid 
reprobation, of domination to the will of others ; 
all these motives are called in to reinforce the social 


instinct, and enable it to overpower the self-regarding 
instinct. In the more ordinary course of social life, 
the main opposition is between the self-regarding 
instinct, of pursuing our own ease and gratification 
by the indulgence of our selfish desires, and the social 
instinct, which demands self-restraint, and the avoid- 
ance of encroachment on the activities of others. In 
this case, as in the former, but in this case more 
particularly, the social instinct is reinforced by the 
sanctions of law and of religion. The law is a vast and 
complex scheme for preventing infractions of social 
regulations, that is to say for punishing those self- 
regarding encroachments on the activity of others, 
that are detrimental to the welfare of the community, 
but that the social instincts are not themselves 
sufl&ciently powerful to prevent. The law is, in fact, 
ancillary to the social instincts ; and its purpose is 
to make good the defect in their potency. The 
inculcations of the divine, in as far as they prescribe 
our duty to our neighbour, have the same general 
purpose as the provisions of the legislator ; from 
which they differ, first in their more general character, 
and in laying down the general rules that the law 
applies to individual cases ; and second, in the nature 
of the sanction, which is no longer fine and imprison- 
ment, but the displeasure of the Deity, and whatever 
consequences that displeasure may involve. 

From a biological point of view, therefore, morality 
is, in this department, the preponderance of social 
conduct over self- regarding conduct ; the practice of 
morality is difficult, because, and in as far as, self- 
regarding instincts are of much greater antiquity in 


the race, and therefore more uniformly powerful in 
their incidence, than social instincts. The inculcation 
of morality under religious sanction, is a reinforcement 
of social instincts, rendered necessary by the relative 
weakness of these instincts, in comparison with those 
which are self-regarding. It is true that this re- 
inforcement of the social instincts does not cover the 
whole field of morality ; but it constitutes a very 
important part of morality. The remainder will be 
dealt with in considering the next field of conduct. 



Chastity and Modesty 

There is a department of conduct of considerable 
extent, that owes its existence to motives that 
belong equally to the conservation of the community 
and the preservation of the race ; and conduct of 
this nature occupies a position intermediate between 
these two modes. This is conduct prompted by 
the instinct of Chastity, and its auxiliary, Sexual 
Modesty, a motive very different from that sup- 
pression of vainglory which goes by the name of 
Modesty in social conduct. 

The unit of social life is, as has already been 
insisted on, not the individual, but the family. It 
is in the cohesion of the family that social life 
originated. The earliest societies, and the most 
primitive societies, consist of the members of a single 
family ; and owe their preservation, in great part, to 
the sanctity that is attached to the family tie. The 
primitive state of society is a state of war — of conflict 
with other societies. This is the chief mode of 
struggle in the earlier stages of the social struggle 
for life ; and it is, no doubt, the mutual aid aff"orded 



to one another by the members of a family, that 
brought about that cohesion of the family, after the 
age of self-conservation of its members was attained, 
that is the earliest stage of social life. If the society 
is to hold together, its internal conduct — the conduct 
of its members with respect to one another, — must 
be harmonious. A house divided against itself 
cannot stand. Strife between the members of a 
community is gregicidal. In advanced communities, 
the main occasion of internal strife is property. The 
vast majority of actions at law, which are the mode 
in which internal strife is now conducted, are actions 
with respect to the ownership of property. In 
many primitive communities, this cause of strife is 
eliminated, or reduced to a minimum, by the absence 
of the causa belli. There is little or no strife about 
property, because there is little or no property. The 
main forms of primitive wealth — lands, dwellings, 
cattle — are held in common by the tribe. The second 
cause of internecine strife is resentment against 
interference, by any one, with the liberty of any 
other. To this, in the last resort, all provocation, 
that is not sexual, may be reduced. Whatever check 
is exercised upon aggression of this description, is 
exercised mainly by the dread of retaliation upon 
the aggressor ; and to some extent, also, by dread of 
the disapprobation of the community. The third 
great source of internecine strife is sexual jealousy ; 
and in order that sexual jealousy, together with the 
strife that it occasions, may be minimised, various 
customs are prevalent in different primitive com- 
munities. I do not say that these customs have 

276 CONDUCT book n 

been deliberately or consciously instituted, for the 
set and understood purpose of minimising the strife 
that arises from sexual jealousy ; but that the fact 
that they do, in practice, minimise this source of 
strife, has given the communities, in which these 
customs prevail, an advantage in the struggle for life 
over those in which they, or customs of equal potency 
in preventing internal strife, did not prevail ; and 
hence, those communities in which the customs pre- 
vailed, have survived ; and those without this 
advantage have been extirpated. 

One of these customs is exogamy. There is no 
more fertile and pernicious source of internal strife 
among the members of any tribe, than a bloodthirsty 
competition between the young males, upon whom 
the tribe must largely depend in war, for the hands 
of the females ; and any custom which eradicates 
this cause of strife, must be of great service to the 
community in its struggle for life. If the girls of 
the tribe are taboo to the men of the tribe, strife on 
this account is eradicated ; and if, instead of rival 
courtship within the tribe, by which enmity and 
jealousy between both men and women is engendered 
and accentuated, there are raids upon neighbouring 
tribes for wives, it is clear that internecine strife on 
this account is minimised. Much controversy has 
taken place as to whether exogamy or endogamy 
was the original custom, or what is the primitive 
custom of marriage ; but if marriage customs are 
regarded from the point of view of the life- worthiness 
of the tribe, it seems probable, as indeed research 
indicates, that no custom is universal ; but that that 


is adopted which best suits the circumstances of the 
adopting tribe. It is clear that, where polyandry- 
prevails, sexual jealousy can scarcely exist ; and 
where tribes are isolated, or the tribal tie is loose, 
there exogamy can scarcely prevail ; but that in 
appropriate circumstances, in a tribe in which sexual 
jealousy is strongly developed, exogamy must tend 
strongly to the preservation of intra-tribal harmony. 
The importance of the sanctity of the family to 
the survival of the family (and therefore of the tribe, 
as an enlargement of the family, or an aggregation 
of families), renders the practice of monandry of great 
importance to the life-worthiness of the community. 
There is no instance of a community in which 
monandry is not prevalent, having risen from the 
lowest rank. There are instances of communities, 
that had reached a very high stage of civilisation, 
perishing and being blotted out, when the principle 
of monandry was seriously and widely infringed. 
Hence the communal importance of female chastity ; 
for female chastity is founded on, and is necessary to, 
monandry. The sexual jealousy of the male is an 
instinct that mankind shares with very many of the 
lower animals of all classes, all orders, and all grades ; 
and when a man is united for life to a woman, as is 
the custom in all communities of men that have risen 
above the lowest grade, the faithfulness of wives is 
a necessary condition of the internal peace of the 
community, and therefore of its survival. Now, the 
faithfulness of the wives can be secured in two ways, 
and in two only : — by the vigilance of the husbands, 
or by the disinclination of the wives to be unfaithful. 

278 CONDUCT book n 

Of these alternatives, the latter is manifestly by far 
the most economical. If the husband can secure the 
faithfulness of his wife only by incessant vigilance, 
his capacity of taking part in other modes of action 
is very seriously impaired ; and if all the husbands in 
a community have to occupy much of their time in 
this way, the community that contains them will 
stand no chance in the struggle for life, against one 
in which the inherent chastity of the women sets the 
men free to perfect themselves in warlike exercises, 
and to occupy themselves in securing, in other ways, 
their own welfare, and that of the tribe at large. 
Hence, those tribes in which the women are chaste 
by innate desire will, caeteris paribus, always prevail 
over those in which the women are chaste only by 
external compulsion. In other words, female chastity 
is a great national asset ; and will tend, by the action 
of natural selection, to be fixed and intensified in 
the women of every militant community. 

This may be the explanation of a curious fact that 
has been observed in some primitive communities — 
that the unmarried girls give themselves up to 
wanton licentiousness, while the married women are 
strictly faithful to the marriage tie. This seems to 
indicate that chastity originates in the married, and 
is at first confined to them, and spreads later to the 
unmarried women. A social state in which some of 
the women are under an obligation of strict chastity, 
while others are free from any such obligation, 
appears ipso facto unstable ; and it seems clear that 
the obligation of chastity would stand a much better 
chance of strict observance, if it were impartially 


imposed upon all. It is, perhaps, for this reason 
that the state of things sketched above is rare ; and 
rarity in such a case probably means transience. 
Chastity confined to the married, seems inevitably 
to be a temporary stage of society : one that is likely 
to change in one of two directions. Either unchastity 
will spread from the single to the married, and the 
community will be at a disadvantage, and go under 
in the struggle with other communities ; or chastity 
will spread from the married to the single, and 
become the rule throughout the community. Hence, 
in all communities that have survived long enough 
to reach a moderate height of development, we find 
the rule of chastity prevails among women, both 
married and unmarried. 

We have seen that the weaker intensity of social 
instincts, that results from their inferior antiquity in 
the history of the race, to the self-regarding instincts, 
has led, in instance after instance, to the reinforce- 
ment of the social instinct by social sanctions. The 
reluctance of the individual to sacrifice his life, when 
required for the welfare of the community, is not left 
to be overcome by the mere force of the patriotic 
instinct. Lest this instinct should prove too weak, 
it is reinforced by others — by the dread of the dis- 
approbation, contempt, and revenge of the com- 
munity ; by the desire for approbation and admira- 
tion, even if posthumous only ; and by the desire for 
combat, which is still potent in some men. Similarly, 
the instinctive motive of chastity, which, as we see by 
comparison with the animals nearest in nature to 
ourselves, is of comparatively recent origin, and is 



liable, therefore, to lapse and fail under the stress of 
temptation, is reinforced by other motives. For 
lapses from chastity is reserved the most intense 
disapprobation that the female part of the community 
can entertain ; the most merciless disapprobation 
that it can express ; and the dread of incurring this 
disapprobation reinforces the innate instinct of 
chastity, with a sanction of terrible potency. This 
innate instinct varies much in efficiency, both in 
different races and in different individual women in 
the same race ; and in some is so lacking, in com- 
parison with the temptation to which the woman 
is subjected, that even when reinforced by all the 
terrors of the social sanction, it is insufficient to 
safeguard her chastity. A second reinforcement, a 
third motive for the preservation of chastity, has 
therefore come into existence — the religious sanction. 
Next to the holding of opinions destructive to itself, 
religion reserves its strongest reprobation for lapses 
from chastity, and relegates them to the blackest 
category of sin. 

Chastity in the male is by no means so much 
valued ; departures from it by the male meet with a 
far milder reprobation than those of the female sex. 
The ordinary explanation is that such lapses on the 
part of the male are of less social importance, since 
they do not introduce bastards into the family. It 
does not seem that this explanation covers the 
ground. So long as the number of the family is 
maintained, it does not appear to be important to 
the conservation of the community, that the children 
nurtured in a family should have but one father. In 



fact, the recognition of step-children, and adopted 
children, shows that a family may well live united in 
a group, even though the children do not all own 
the same father ; and common sayings indicate that 
the family harmony sutlers more when the mothers 
are different, than when the fathers are different. 
The greater tolerance of unchastity in the male seems 
rather to be correlated with the widespread practice 
of polygamy in primitive societies, and even in some, 
as the Mohammedan, of an advanced position in the 
scale of civilisation. The practice of polygamy 
naturally leads to, and is bound up with, an in- 
equality in the position of the wives. In every 
polygamous family there is usually one favourite 
wife, who is not merely the first in the husband's 
affections, but takes rank of the others, stands in 
what is looked on, and may be in law, a more 
intimate union with the husband than the other 
wives ; who are relegated to a position that approxi- 
mates, more or less closely, to concubinage. From 
this it is but a step to concubinage, or semi-marriage ; 
and, when this is permitted to the husband, it would 
seem pedantic to require him to confine his amours 
to those who are thus irregularly related to him, to 
the exclusion of those who are not related at all. It 
would be incorrect, probably, to say that jealousy in 
the female is less developed than in the male ; but it 
would seem that its expression is attended with 
consequences less disastrous to the community. It 
does not withdraw, as jealousy in the male tends to 
withdraw, the fighting and striving members of the 
community from these functions, in order that they 



may exercise watchfulness over the other sex, and 
safeguard the integrity of their honour. It is 
probable that it is in such considerations as these, 
that we shall find the origin of the greater laxity of 
the attitude of the community towards unchastity 
in the male — the recognition of the desirability of 
male chastity is of later origin ; and unchastity in the 
male is less detrimental to the welfare of the com- 

Sexual Modesty 

Chastity and sexual modesty are closely related, 
but they are not inseparable. Chastity finds in 
modesty a powerful ally, but may exist without 
modesty ; and, while chastity is a matter of vital 
importance to the community, and therefore to the 
race, modesty, though much more nearly universal, 
is largely a matter of convention, of fashion, and of 

Of all modes of conduct, sexual modesty is the 
most distinctively human. None of the lower 
animals appears to exhibit even a rudiment of it, and 
scarcely any race of human beings is totally destitute 
of modesty. 

The origin of sexual modesty is not difficult to 
trace. It was pointed out years ago by Grant Allen, 
that those pleasures and pains that are occasioned by 
experiences the most directly concerned with the 
continuation of the race, and the preservation of the 
life of the individual, are, by common consent, held 
to be the most degraded ; while those are the most 
elevated, whose occasions are the most remote from 


these necessary functions. Of all functions, that of 
reproduction is the most fundamental, the most 
primordial, and, according to the law of Grant Allen, 
therefore the most degraded. To keep it in the 
background, to smother and conceal it under a mass 
of instincts more and more remote from it, though 
leading directly towards it, is the function of sexual 
modesty, and so effectually is this function performed, 
that the lowest, grossest, and most bestial of human 
passions is etherialised into one of the highest, the 
most refined, and the most admirable. Lust is trans- 
formed and refined into love. 

The essence of sexual modesty is concealment. 
Everything concerned in crude sexuality is to be 
concealed ; and, with the growth of modesty, conceal- 
ment is extended to matters more and more remote 
from concern with crude sexuality. The earliest mani- 
festation of modesty is a scanty loin-cloth — ' nothing 
much before, and rather less than half of that behind.' 
From the primary organs of reproduction, concealment 
spreads to the secondary ; and the first extension of 
modesty is the concealment of the breasts. From 
these beginnings, concealment is extended, from the 
hips to the ankles, and from the breast to the wrists, 
until, in some communities, modesty demands of a 
woman that she keep even her face concealed. In 
all times and places, there is a certain convention and 
fashion in the precise amount of concealment that 
modesty demands ; but everywhere there is a limit, 
to fall short of which incurs the reproach and the 
shame of immodesty. This limit is determined purely 
by convention ; and it is curious that the convention 


varies within surprisingly wide limits, even in the 
same society, on different occasions. To be seen in a 
decollete costume in the street, or in a bathing 
costume in the house, would be considered grossly 
immodest ; but there is nothing immodest in wearing 
these costumes in circumstances that convention has 
fixed as appropriate. 

Whatever concealment is practised under the 
instinct of modesty, must be stripped away before the 
reproductive function can be exercised ; and con- 
versely, any stripping away of concealment suggests, 
more or less remotely, an approach to the exercise of 
this function. Hence, any beginning of the removal 
of concealment is violently antagonistic to modesty, 
and is repelled and resisted, unless it take place in 
privacy. A modest woman is ashamed to be seen 
even with her hair down, or with her bodice un- 
fastened ; even though the garment beneath envelops 
her as completely as that which is loosened. 

Modesty demands that not only the person, but 
the conduct, shall be such as to ignore the existence 
of the reproductive function. Attitude, gesture, 
movement, conversation, must not only not suggest 
its existence, but must be conducted as if it did not 
exist. A modest woman keeps herself concealed 
when pregnancy is sufficiently advanced to be notice- 
able ; and this concealment extends from the primary 
function of reproduction to all its auxiliaries and 
approaches. The passion for concealment extends 
even to love itself, the most refined and sublimated 
mode of sexual passion. Love is not acknowledged, 
either to the loved object, or to the world at large. 



or even to the loving woman herself. Even the 
approaches of courtship are made under cover of 
other pretexts. The interviews so eagerly desired, 
must be contrived by manoeuvring, and sought osten- 
sibly for other ends. Even the adornments of the 
person, and the graces of demeanour, that are assumed 
for the purposes of sexual attraction, must be set 
down to some other motive ; and any allusion to 
their true purpose results in confusion and em- 

The suppression of all manifestation of a state of 
mind is not without result upon the state of mind 
itself. It may conduce to either of two results. It 
may end in the actual temporary suppression of that 
state of mind ; or even in its permanent atrophy and 
disappearance ; or it may end in irregular and tumul- 
tuous manifestation. The suppression, under the 
influence of modesty and convention, of the mani- 
festation of love, or of grosser sexual desire, furnishes 
us with instances of both eSects. 

Astonishing as it seems, it is nevertheless a fact 
testified to by frequent experience, that the oldest, 
most primordial, and most fundamental of desires — 
that in which all other desires have their root, and to 
which all others are subordinate and subsidiary, — 
may yet prove evanescent, and may disappear, leav- 
ing but few traces behind it. We cannot ignore the 
influence of the superior modesty of women, in bring- 
ing it about that they fall in love later, and more 
seldom, than do men. It is clear that, if this tendency 
is pushed to excess, it will end in the love of women 
being a passion so mild and transitory that it exerts 

286 CONDUCT book n 

little influence on their lives ; or even in their failure 
to fall in love at all. There is good reason to suppose 
that there is an increasing number of women in whom 
the capacity to fall in love is but little developed ; 
and who look upon their more fully equipped sisters 
with contempt. Moreover, it is certain that there is 
a large, and probably increasing number of women, 
who, whether single or married, never experience that 
grosser sexual desire which forms such an important 
part of the life of the male. In this respect, the 
more highly organised human communities exhibit an 
approximation to the highly organised communities 
of bees, wasps, and ants ; in which there are three 
sexes — males, females, and neuters, — the latter being 
females in whom the reproductive function remains 
undeveloped. It is curious that in these insect com- 
munities, the neutral females preponderate in number 
over the sexually perfect members of the community, 
and do all the work ; leaving to these no function but 
that of reproduction ; and in the most completely 
organised human communities, the females pre- 
ponderate in number ; large numbers of them ex- 
perience but mildly or not at all the normal craving 
of sex ; or at any rate, allow to the activities of sex 
but an insignificant portion of their lives ; and are 
claiming a larger share in the work of the community. 
In the male, the excessive action of modesty 
rarely or never leads to suppression of the sexual 
instinct. It does, however, not seldom embarrass 
him in the pursuit of courtship. It is for him to 
make opportunities for social contact, to show his 
hand, to press his attentions, to exhibit the ardour 


that he feels ; but in this endeavour he is constantly 
thwarted by his modesty, which compels him to 
conceal his passion. Love impels him to court the 
woman of his choice ; modesty inhibits him from open 
admiration. Even when time, place, and circum- 
stance are favourable ; even when he has gained a 
private interview, and longs to declare his passion ; 
modesty intervenes, and imposes an unconquerable 
obstacle. He is bold enough, and glib enough, when 
the object of his affections is not by ; but in her 
presence, modesty ties his tongue, confuses his mind, 
and makes his knees to shake ; and, without very 
positive encouragement, he may go away without 
effecting his purpose. 



The third great department of conduct is that which 
is devoted to the end of continuing the race, and is, 
as has been said, probably the root from which all 
modes of conduct have grown. It is the ultimate 
end of all organic life, and the primary motive of all 

We have already seen that social life, while it is 
of enormous advantage in many ways to the in- 
dividual ; and enables him to reach a stage of develop- 
ment, and a pitch of happiness, that would be 
impossible to a solitary ; is yet, in some respects, 
antagonistic to the life of its individual components. 
Social life demands always self-restraint, and, on 
occasion, total self-sacrifice. The social instincts and 
the self-regarding instincts are always opposed, and 
sometimes become incompatible. What is true of 
social instincts is true in enhanced degree of repro- 
ductive instincts. From beginning to end, the process 
of reproduction is bound up with sacrifice of self on 
the part of the parent, and needs self-sacrifice for its 

Racial or reproductive conduct, although it is the 




ultimate end of all life, and although it dominates 
both self-regarding conduct and social conduct, and 
easily overbears and supersedes them, yet differs from 
them in being intermittent, and enacted at intervals 
only ; while the others are wellnigh continuous. Our 
vigilance over our own conservation may seldom 
relax, or we should soon suffer for the lapse. The 
greater part of our lives is spent in association, more 
or less intimate, with others ; and while that associa- 
tion exists, our social activities and restraints must 
be maintained. But courtship occupies us at intervals 
only, and during a very brief period of our lives ; the 
mere act of reproduction is of no long duration ; and 
the care of children does not begin until we are well 
into adult life ; occupies most of us, at intervals only, 
for a series of years ; and ceases with the approach of 
old age. 

As just intimated, racial conduct begins with the 
earliest approaches of courtship, and endures until all 
the children are established in life, and fitted to take 
up, in their turn, the task of continuing the race. 


In courtship, the desires and the conduct of the 
two sexes are not similar, but are complementary and 
reciprocal. In courtship, the male is active ; his 
role is to court, to pursue, to possess, to control, to 
protect, to love. The role of the female is passive. 
She desires to be courted, to be pursued, to be pos- 
sessed, controlled, protected, loved. This different 
apportionment of conduct in the two sexes is of 



universal prevalence. It holds good, not only in the 
human race. Throughout the animal kingdom, and 
indeed in the vegetable world also, the female passively 
awaits the active approach of the male. The dis- 
tinction rests, no doubt, upon the ultimate and 
fundamental difference of the male and female 
elements — the sperm and the germ. The first is 
locomotor ; the second is non-locomotor. From the 
point of view of racial persistence, the individual is 
nothing but an apparatus for containing, protecting, 
and perfecting the sexual element or elements, and 
for bringing them together when they are mature. 
In those cases in which the germ and sperm are both 
elaborated in the same individual, that is, in true 
hermaphroditism, the individual is maritally neutral ; 
but wherever the sexes are separate, they partake of 
the nature of their own sexual elements. Biologically, 
the female is of no importance, except as the hostess 
and nurse of the germ ; the male is of no importance, 
except as the host and carrier of the sperm. Con- 
sequently, the marital role of the male is actively to 
search for, and pursue the female ; the marital role 
of the female is passively to await and expect the 
advances of the male. 

Consequent on this fundamental difference are 
certain others. For pursuit, greater ardour is 
necessary than for mere reception ; and the court- 
ing activity of the male is, throughout the whole 
animal kingdom, more ardent than that of the female ; 
and this greater ardour is correlated with certain 
other differences. 

Being more ardent, men are less critical. No 



doubt, women often fall in love with very inappro- 
priate objects ; but, not having the headlong ardour 
of the male, the female adolescent does not often 
emulate the calf-love of the male, which may be 
directed towards anything that has the shape and 
attributes of a woman ; and is as often fixed upon a 
woman old enough to be his mother, or impossibly 
dififerent in rank and station, or utterly unattractive 
to any one but himself, as upon a young and beautiful 
girl in his own rank of life. Attachments as inappro- 
priate, of the female, are not unknown ; but they 
are much less frequent. The greater passivity of 
the female allows of more careful selection, and the 
mesalliance of a woman is much rarer than that of 
a man. 

Though man attains to sexual maturity later than 
woman, and usually marries a woman younger than 
himself — disparity in the opposite direction is felt 
to be a little unnatural — yet he falls in love earlier 
and more readily. A young man is always liable to 
fall head over ears in love with any moderately 
attractive woman that he happens to meet ; but a 
woman passes by many a man who might be sup- 
posed to be attractive to her, before she loses her 
heart ; and usually does not fall in love till a later 
age than her brother. 

Again, consonantly with their natural ardour, men 
fall in love, not only early, but often. No doubt 
they are desolate when they are rejected, but their 
desolation is not usually long-lived. The cavity left 
in their affections, by the extraction of the beloved 
object, is soon filled up by the insertion of another. 

292 CONDUCT book n 

A man rarely marries his first love. He may have 
loved a dozen or more before he makes his final 
selection ; and, consonantly, he is more fickle than 
woman. His affection is transferred without much 
difficulty, and with no long interval between, from 
one object to another. Woman loves, on the whole, 
later, less readily, less frequently, and with greater 
constancy. Many women have but a single arrow 
in their quiver, and if this misses the target, they 
are left weaponless. The multitude of attractive 
and admirable women who become old maids, are 
not left unmarried for want of offers. If we could 
learn their histories, we should find in each a tragedy. 
In earlier days they have loved, but their love was 
unsuccessful. The man they loved died ; or he jilted 
them ; or he turned out a scamp ; or relatives inter- 
fered for one reason or another ; or he was too poor ; 
or there was an estrangement — a misunderstanding 
that was never cleared up ; or, perchance, he was 
attached to some one else, and never looked their 
way. Some reason there was why her arrow missed 
its mark ; and having once given all her love, she 
had no more to give ; or, owing to the naturally 
greater constancy of the female, by the time her 
wound was healed, she had ceased to be attractive 
to marriageable men. To put the matter crudely, 
and with some exaggeration, when a woman loves, 
she loves one particular man, and must have him 
and no other ; when a man loves, he loves a woman 
— any woman who is sufficiently attractive — and if 
she is not available, he finds little difficulty in trans- 
ferring his afi'ections to another. Woman is by 


nature a monogamist ; man has in him the elements 
of a polygamist. 

As the desire of woman in courtship is of the 
passive class — is not to court, but to be courted ; not 
to pursue, but to be pursued ; not so much to control, 
protect, love, as to be controlled, protected, loved, — 
so her conduct is much less active than that of the 
man. It is mainly passive, but it is not wholly 
passive. As he pursues, she retires. Without 
retirement on her part, there can be no pursuit on 
his, and the rules of the game would not be observed. 
The first approach of courtship by man, is met by 
shrinking of the woman ; and man is so constituted, 
that this very shrinking increases his ardour. But 
shrinking is not the only activity exercised by the 
woman in courtship. AVhile it is his to pursue, it is 
her part to allure ; and the peculiarity of the allure- 
ment is that it must be, or appear, undesigned and 
unintentional, or its effect is not merely lost, but 
reversed. Deliberate allurement, manifestly designed 
and intended, is not alluring, but repellent ; and 
yet, without some allurement, there will scarcely be 
courtship. It seems, therefore, that women are in a 
peculiarly hard case, and that no courtship could ever 
progress to a happy conclusion ; but it fortunately 
happens that many women are so attractive in face, 
figure, demeanour, or character, that these of them- 
selves constitute sufiicient allurement ; and that men 
at the period, and in the pursuit, of courtship, are so 
blind, that allurements of the most transparently 
artificial character, appear to them unconscious and 

294 CONDUCT book h 

AVliile these are the respective parts of the man 
and the woman in courtship ; parts that are reciprocal, 
and complementary, and contrasted with each other ; 
yet it is very frequent for the man to exhibit some 
feminine qualities, and for the woman to exhibit 
some smack of masculine qualities in courtship. For 
the primary characters of sex to be commingled, or 
indefinite in their demarcation, is extremely rare. 
A true hermaphrodite is almost unknown. But 
the pseudo- hermaphrodite is not extremely rare. 
Occasionally, we find the secondary characters of sex 
misplaced, so that the male has the smooth face, the 
high-pitched voice, the mammary development, and 
the rounded contour of the female ; or the female has 
the facial hirsuteness, the deep voice, the want of 
mammary development, and the narrow hips of the 
male. The tertiary sexual qualities are very often 
commingled ; and what may be termed a mental 
hermaphrodism, is frequent enough. We find men 
with the characteristic womanly qualities of passivity ; 
of willingness to be controlled and protected rather 
than eagerness to control and protect ; of tact rather 
than domination ; of intuition rather than reasoning ; 
of sympathy and pity rather than of equity and 
justice. In such cases we find that, in courtship, 
the male practises allurement by finicking attention 
to dress ; the female pursues with some approach to 
the ardour of the male ; we find men who emulate 
women in the constancy of their afiections ; and 
women who resemble men in the ease and frequency 
with which their afi'ections are transferred ; men who 
are fastidious, and fall in love but once, — women 

CHAP, xviii COURTSHIP 295 

who are far from being eclectic, and even are prone 
to mesalliance. 

The natural ardour of the male ensures that, in 
this sex, mere defect in the activity of courtship is 
infrequent. There are, indeed, those who are brought 
up from childhood to the prospect of joining a 
celibate priesthood, and whose activity in this respect 
is subdued and suppressed ; and it must be admitted 
that, in most cases at the present day, the suppression 
is surprisingly complete and effectual ; but the history 
of monasticism is one long record of broken vows 
and disappointed aspirations. Bishops, Archbishops, 
Popes, Kings, and Princes ; Philosophers, such as 
Jovinian and Erasmus ; Demagogues, such as Piers 
Plowman ; Fathers of the Church, such as Augustin 
and Chrysostom ; Monks, such as Dunstan ; Friars, 
such as Bonaventura ; and Councils of the Church ; 
deplored, in one continuous denunciation, extending 
over many centuries, the disorders, corruptions, and 
scandals of monastic bodies. Naturam expellas 
furca — . No doubt monastic and clerical vows of 
celibacy are better observed in these days, but 
outside of this class, the number of men who do not 
in early life exhibit activity in courtship, is very 
small indeed. It is true that, in the cases of a few 
distinguished men, of whom Macaulay is the most 
conspicuous example, there is no record of a love 
affair ; but then our record of their lives is probably 
incomplete. Even in such a misanthropist as Swift, 
courtship was not wanting, even in middle life ; and 
the total absence of the inclination must be extremely 
rare. Less infrequent in the courting activities of 

296 CONDUCT book h 

men, is the presence of a certain element of femininity, 
in a constancy, and inability of ready transfer of tlie 
affections, which is more characteristic of the female 
than of the male. Here and there we find a case, 
even in the male, in which a single unsuccessful 
courtship has led to permanent discontinuance of 
this mode of conduct, and subsidence into a life of 
voluntary celibacy. More frequent is excess of 
ardour on the one hand, and of fickleness on the 
other. There are men who pester the object of their 
affections with unwelcome attentions, long after the 
unwelcomeness has been plainly indicated to them ; 
and there are others who transfer their attentions 
with startling suddenness and frequency, from one 
object to another. Ordinarily, it needs a certain 
length of acquaintance to inspire a man with sufficient 
passion for a woman to initiate a serious courtship ; 
though good looks and attractive manners are always 
a stimulus to the desire of further acquaintance ; but 
there is no doubt of the occurrence, in some cases, 
of love at first sight ; and, in such cases, courtship 
begins simultaneously with acquaintanceship. From 
this it is but a step, though it is a long step, to 
courtship without any acquaintance at all. There 
are authentic cases in which a man has fallen in love 
with a woman, and has pursued her with the intention 
of courtship, upon the strength of her portrait, or 
even of an epistolary correspondence ; and it is not 
unknown for a man to be hopelessly attached to a 
woman he has never seen, with whom he has had no 
correspondence, and whom he does not recognise even 
when he meets her. Such conduct transcends the 



limits of the normal, and is not witnessed except in 
the insane, of whose insanity it is evidence. It is 
exceeded in abnormality by other cases, in which a 
man is in love with a woman who has no existence 
outside of his own imagination. Such a case has 
fallen under my own observation. 

In woman, defect, either original or acquired, of 
the activities of courtship, is much less rare than in 
men. As the normal activity is less, so the defect 
or absence of such activity is a less departure from 
the normal. There is an appreciable number of 
women who never fall in love at all ; who never 
exhibit any inclination towards any member of the 
opposite sex ; and w^ho embrace a celibate, and even 
a conventual life, as their natural and congenial 
career. Much more frequent, however, are those 
women who fix their affection in early life upon a 
man, who either does not respond, or whom fate 
separates them from, either before or soon after 
marriage ; and thereupon renounce all effort, as they 
are destitute of all desire, to secure another suitor. 
That less facility of the transference of affection, 
which is a characteristic of the woman in comparison 
with the man, is in them exaggerated into im- 
possibility. Thenceforward they renounce all effort 
to attract the other sex. On the contrary, the 
courtship of a man repels and irks them ; and to 
avoid the discomfort, they may deliberately render 
themselves unattractive by the assumption of some 
unbecoming costume. Our foremothers in such 
circumstances, who did not wish to join a religious 
community, would assume a brevet rank, which 

298 CONDUCT book n 

conventionally rendered them as unapproachable as if 
they were married ; but this custom is now out of 
fashion ; and, if such women do not enter religion, 
they now trust to their own demeanour to repel 
possible suitors, and render courtship impracticable. 

On the other hand, excess of the activities of 
courtship in woman is by no means unknown. There 
are plenty of flirts who cannot become acquainted 
with a man without seeking to allure him into 
courtship ; who measure their success in life by the 
number of scalps they can hang upon their belts ; with 
whom neither the tie of their own marriage, nor the 
tie of friendship with the wives of their victims, nor 
even the repulsion which their wiles create in those 
who penetrate their object, is enough to keep from 
seeking to attract the courtship of every man they 
come across. Another way in which the activity of 
courtship becomes excessive in woman, is when it is 
prolonged, as it sometimes is, to an age at which it 
would, even if successful, no longer serve the purpose 
for which it exists. When women at, or beyond, the 
limit of child-bearing age, dress themselves as young 
girls, and exercise towards young men the allurements 
that they might appropriately have exercised five- 
and-twenty years before, we may fairly regard such 
activity as excessive ; and the ridicule and dis- 
approbation that such conduct incurs, is based upon 
the discernment of its incongruity with the ultimate 
end of courtship. When this mode of conduct is 
continued, not only beyond the menopause, but 
onward into actual senility, or when it is revived 
and becomes active at the age of sixty, or seventy. 


then it is recognised as not merely excessive, but 
excessive beyond the bounds of sanity. For an old 
woman to fall in love, to ogle and leer, to lay herself 
out to attract the other sex, to flirt, and to indulge 
in the. playful sallies of a girl ; is felt to be no longer 
ridiculous. It is now become painful, and marks an 
advance from normal to morbid excess. 

Another mode of excess in the courting activity 
of women is exhibited, if active and evident allurement 
becomes preponderant over that passive attractiveness, 
which is the peculiar charm of woman. Such excess 
satisfies the definition of perversion of conduct, since 
it is conduct that tends to defeat the very instinct 
by which it is prompted. 

Jealous Conduct 

Diff'erent as the role and method of man are from 
those of woman in courtship, yet the aim of each is 
the same as that of the other. It is the exclusive 
possession of the aff'ection, of the paramount interest 
and regard, and finally of the person, of the loved 
object. What is desired is not merely possession, 
but exclusive possession. This is the aim of court- 
ship ; this is the desire that reigns paramount during 
courtship, and subsequently extends itself over 
married life ; and any interference with the exclusive 
possession, that is attained by successful courtship, 
arouses the lethal passion of jealousy, and the 
conduct that is prompted by jealousy. 

Jealous conduct is conduct directed towards 
obtaining and preserving exclusive possession, and 



resenting any infringement of this privilege ; and 
such conduct varies much in scope, in activity, and 
in mode of expression. 

By the scope of jealous conduct is meant the 
objects towards which it is directed. The desire of 
the lover is not merely to possess, but to obtain 
exclusive possession ; and to obtain exclusive pos- 
session not merely of the person, but of the affection ; 
and not merely of the affection, but of the regard 
and attention, of the loved object. The primary 
scope of jealousy is directed to excluding from the 
possession of the beloved object, all others of the 
opposite sex ; and efforts directed to this end 
constitute the crudest and most elementary mode of 
jealous conduct ; but this is far from being the limit 
of conduct prompted by jealousy. The jealous 
person demands the undivided and exclusive regard 
of the beloved, and is jealous not only of affection, 
but of attention, bestowed upon others — is jealous 
not only of attention bestowed upon other men by a 
woman, and upon other women by a man, but of 
attention bestowed upon persons of the same sex. 
Nay, jealousy does not stop short even at this. The 
jealous man is aggrieved at the affection and attention 
bestowed by his wife upon their own child ; the 
jealous woman is jealous, not only of her lover's 
attention to other women, and of his friendships 
with other men, but resents his attachment to his 
dog, his gun, his book, and his favourite amusement. 
There are, indeed, those who confine the direction of 
their jealousy to these secondary extensions, and are 
more jealous of them than of persons of the same sex. 


That jealousy varies in activity, or in the intensity 
of the stimulus that provokes it, is a commonplace. 
There are men who can look with complacency upon 
the flirtations of their wives, and even regard actual 
unfaithfulness with indifi"erence ; but it is rather 
remarkable that such toleration is much rarer in 
women. The woman who does not love her husband, 
and who carries on amours of her own, may yet be 
desperately jealous of the attentions of her husband 
to other women. Again, there are men who cannot 
endure to see their wives treat other men with even 
ordinary civility. To see his wife even smile at 
another man's witticisms, or appear interested in 
another man's conversation, excites, in such husbands, 
a fury of jealousy, and provokes an outburst of 
jealous conduct. 

Again, jealousy prompts, in different persons, to 
difi'erent manifestations. In some it provokes sulks, 
in others fury, according to the nature of the jealous 
person. By some, the resentment is directed against 
the spouse or the lover ; by others against the third 
party or thing that is believed to have engaged the 
afi'ection or attention of the spouse or lover ; and by 
yet others, the revenge of jealousy is directed against 
the self; so that when, as not seldom happens, the 
jealousy rises to homicidal intensity, the jealous man 
may murder his wife or sweetheart, or the man to 
whom he thinks she is attached, or he may commit 
suicide ; and so, mutatis mutandis, with the woman. 
If the passion of jealousy does not reach the pitch of 
homicide, it prompts, in any case, to conduct that is 
antagonistic and hostile ; and the hostility and 


antagonism may be directed against either of the 
three parties concerned, or against any two, or 
against all of them. In the male, the primary 
antagonism is directed against the rival ; but of 
this we do not hear often, for there is a convention 
that a quarrel about a woman is to be attributed to 
some other motive. The injuring of the loved one, 
and of himself, by the jealous man, are about equally 
frequent ; and commonly the revenge includes both. 
By the woman, the injurious effect of jealousy is 
more often directed to the sacrifice of herself; but 
not infrequently it leads to attempts to injure the 
rival, which may range from mere depreciation of 
that rival's good looks, to destroying them by the aid 
of vitriol. It is much more rare in the woman than 
in the man, for revenge to be taken on the loved 

There is a peculiar occasion of jealousy, that is 
not infrequent, and that is not provoked by, or 
directed against, any particular third person ; that 
is aroused, not by any infringement of exclusive 
possession, but merely by inability to obtain exclusive 
possession of the loved object. A man loves a woman 
who does not respond to his advances, or, more 
commonly, who has given him some encouragement, 
but finds, on better acquaintance, that he is not her 
ideal, and refuses to respond any further to his 
attentions. In such cases, it often happens that the 
desire of exclusive possession is so strong in the man, 
that the mere denial of it, without any transference 
of the right to a third person, is enough to rouse him 
to frantic violence. ' If I cannot have her,' he says, 


' no one else shall ' ; and he renders the prediction 
sure by murdering the object of his choice. It is 
remarkable that this particular manifestation of 
jealousy is confined to the lower strata of society, 
and is never displayed by men of birth and breeding. 
In yet other cases, that are not very rare, the 
passion for exclusive possession prompts to conduct 
destructive to the lives of both lovers, even though 
they are mutually attached, and neither contemplates 
the unfaithfulness of the other. We frequently 
witness cases of the double suicide of two lovers, to 
whose union some obstacle, that appears to them 
insuperable, is opposed. To speak of such acts as 
the outcome of jealousy, appears inappropriate, for 
we usually associate this term with the straying of 
the one party from the exclusive possession of the 
other ; but it is clear that exclusive possession is 
interfered with and negatived, as much by pre- 
vention of coming together, as by separation after 
union ; and it is interference with this desire of 
exclusive possession, that prompts the conduct in 
these cases of double suicide, as in cases of murder 
from motives of jealousy. This mode of conduct, 
also, is confined to persons low in the social scale. 



This mode of conduct need not detain us long. As 
in courtship, so in marriage, the parts of the sexes 
are complementary and reciprocal. It is the part of 
the husband to provide sustenance for the wife ; it is 
the part of the wife to apply, for the common use, 
the sustenance provided by the husband. It is the 
duty of both to provide mutual interest in each 
other's occupations; mutual congratulations in success; 
mutual consolation in misfortune ; mutual confidence 
towards each other ; mutual assistance as against the 
rest of the world ; mutual upholding of each other's 
reputation and credit ; mutual respect of one 
another's secrets ; reciprocal affection and kind 

In these matters, defect is more frequent than 
excess. The husband may fail to provide the 
necessary sustenance for his wife. If his failure 
proceeds from an inability which applies equally to 
himself, the failure is in indirectly self-conservative, 
not in marital conduct ; but if he applies his means to 
his own sustenance and pleasure, and leaves his wife 
in want, or insufficiently provided for, the failure is 



iu the marital department of conduct ; and such 
failure is far from infrequent. On the other hand, 
the wife who applies the common fund of sustenance, 
provided by the husband, exclusively or mainly to 
her own satisfaction, is guilty of dereliction of marital 
conduct. The wife who spends in dress the house- 
keeping money, or pawns the furniture to obtain 
drink, is as much to blame, as the husband who 
spends on racing and betting, the wages that his wife 
needs for her support. 

A more frequent mode of marital neglect, and one 
almost as fertile in producing estrangement and un- 
happiness in the household, is absorption in interests 
that are not shared by the spouse, and failure to 
manifest interest in his or her occupations and 
amusements. When husband and wife have each 
their own hobbies, their particular and unshared 
friendships ; when their interests are separate ; when 
the wife shows no interest in the husband's success in 
his business or profession, the husband no interest in 
the wife's social triumphs or failures ; the purpose of 
marriage is unfulfilled, and each exhibits neglect of 
marital conduct. Such neglect is, unhappily, frequent 
enough ; and scarcely less frequent — indeed a part of 
the same mode of conduct — is failure of the manifesta- 
tions of affection, and of the reciprocation of kindly 

A step beyond this conduct, and a long step, is 
actual depreciation and disparagement of one spouse 
by the other. How far this marks defect or disorder 
of conduct, depends on its mode and degree. The 
wife or the husband who consults doctor or solicitor, 


306 CONDUCT book n 

in all the secrecy of professional confidence, with 
respect to the laches of husband or wife, pursues a 
source of conduct for which there may be a regrettable 
necessity ; even to consult in confidence some 
intimate friend may be allowable ; ])ut to indulge in 
disparagement of husband or wife to acquaintances, 
or in mixed company, is a dereliction of marital 
conduct which incurs severe reprobation. Even to 
listen to such disparagement is not consistent with 
the maintenance of proper marital relations. More 
especially is it the duty of each spouse to preserve 
the respect of their children for the other. 

On the other hand, marital conduct may be 
excessive. The caresses and endearments which are 
right, and proper, and obligatory, to the marital 
relation, in private, are not to be carried on under 
the observation of others. The emphasised devotion 
to one another in public, of a married pair, excites 
disrespect ; and thus tends to diminish that con- 
sideration of each in the eyes of onlookers, that it is 
the object of the other to increase. 

Parental and Filial Conduct 

Parental conduct is the nourishing, cherishing, 
protection, and up-bringing of children, and in this 
the mother is the most immediately concerned : the 
father acts mainly through the intermediation of the 

The desire for motherhood is experienced, and 
finds expression in motherly conduct, long before 
maternity becomes actual, and often enough when 


maternity is altogether denied. It is, perhaps, not 
justifiable to regard the playing of little girls with 
dolls as wholly due to the instinct of motherhood. 
Much may be put down to imitation, and the desire 
to emulate the conduct of the adult; and in this 
respect, playing with dolls is prompted by the same 
instinct as playing at keeping shops, at horses, and 
so forth ; but a part of the pleasure which little girls 
find in playing with dolls may no doubt be put 
down to a precocious display of the instinct of 
motherhood. Women' to whom maternity is denied, 
find satisfaction for their maternal instinct, sometimes 
in the adoption of the offspring of others, sometimes 
in mothering a nephew, or other young relative, or 
even a stranger ; and if these outlets are denied to 
them, will lavish a quasi-maternal afi"ection on a lap- 
dog, a cat, or even a parrot, or a canary-bird. To 
every normally constituted woman, weakness and 
helplessness appeal with irresistible urgency for 
protection and cherishing ; and do not evoke the 
contempt that is apt to be mingled with masculine 

Powerful as the instinct of motherhood is in the 
normal woman, there are women in whom it is 
defective; who neglect, and even ill-treat, their 
children, and the children of others who may be 
entrusted to their care ; and one of the most regular 
manifestations of the insanity that attacks some 
women about the time of child-birth, is the reversal 
of the instinct of motherhood, and the craving to 
destroy that life that they have just brought into 
existence. This very curious mode of conduct 

308 CONDUCT book n 

remains up to the present unaccountable ; but that 
it is founded deep in character, and is in some way 
connected with the instinct of motherhood, is shown 
by two very striking facts. In the first place, it is 
never exhibited by the male ; and in the second, it is 
shared with the human mothers by the females of 
many of the lower animals. Parturient dogs, rabbits, 
pigs, and other animals will, under certain circum- 
stances, destroy their new-born offspring ; and even 
the sheep will, as I have witnessed, butt and drive 
away a weakly lamb, refuse it its natural sustenance, 
and leave it to starve. If this horrible attitude were 
adopted towards those offspring only that were weak, 
and had little chance of attaining maturity, it would 
be biologically explicable ; but it is not so limited. 
The rabbit, the pig, and the dog destroy the whole 
of the litter, with impartial brutality ; and the human 
mother, in the insanity of the puerperium, destroys 
her child, however robust and promising that child 
may be. This remarkable reversal of the maternal 
instinct bears something the same relation to the 
normal, as Sadism bears to the crude sexual instinct. 
The line that divides excess of maternal instinct 
from the normal, is a fine one. Mothers who devote 
themselves to their children with such solicitude as 
to impair their own health, display a degree of 
maternal conduct that is excessive from the point of 
view of the individual ; but in the scheme of nature, 
it is the part of the parent to submit to sacrifice, and 
to welcome sacrifice, for the sake of the offspring, if 
such self-sacrifice conduces to the survival, or even 
to the welfare of the child. But such a degree of self- 



sacrifice on the part of the mother, as imperils the 
welfare of the child, by disenabling the mother from 
ofivino; the child the nurture and care that it needs, 
must be regarded as excessive. Such self-sacrifice is 
sometimes seen, in the exhaustion and impairment of 
health produced by nursing a sick child. 

A mode of maternal conduct that may be regarded 
as excessive, is seen in the spoiling of children by 
over-indulgent mothers. The function of maternity 
is to cherish, protect, and nourish the child, until it 
is fit to take its own part in the struggle for life. 
The common function of both parents is to prepare 
the offspring for this struggle, by education and 
direction of faculty. The two functions are to some 
extent incongruous, and even antagonistic. That 
the child may survive, its weakness must be supple- 
mented by the strength of the parent ; it must have 
much done for it that it is unable to do for itself; 
but if too much is done for it, it will never acquire 
the power of doing things for itself. That its faculties 
may develop, they must have scope for exercise ; 
but this exercise must be within the limits fixed by 
the membership of a community, which is inconsistent, 
as we have seen, with complete freedom. The proper 
upbringing of a child demands, therefore, a combina- 
tion of modes of action that are to some extent 
incongruous. While many things must be done for 
it, it must be encouraged and stimulated to do things 
for itself; and while some freedom of action must be 
allowed to it, this freedom must be checked and 
circumscribed by the common necessity of not 
interfering with the legitimate liberty of action of 


others. The over-indulgent parent spoils the child 
in both respects. The parent does for the child 
much that the child is capable of doing for itself, 
and thus the child's faculties remain, in these 
directions, undeveloped ; and the child is allowed 
freedom to encroach on the liberty of others, is 
encouraged in selfish and self-indulgent conduct, 
which unfits it for its position in its community. 
Hence spoilt children are, when they grow up, on 
the one hand incapable, since they are unaccustomed 
to the exercise of capacity ; and on the other un- 
popular, from their selfishness and want of considera- 
tion for others. 

Excess in the other direction becomes from time 
fco time preponderant. Too much in the way of self- 
help is required of the child ; too little freedom of 
action is allowed to it. When the little Duke of 
Gloucester, the only child of Queen Anne who 
survived infancy, had a difiiculty in carrying his 
enormous hydrocephalic head upstairs, he was caned 
by his father until the stairs were surmounted ; and 
the instance is an extreme one, of a practice that has 
always prevailed, when the mode of conduct that 
we call Puritan has prevailed. Together with this 
compulsion of children to take upon them prematurely 
the burden of self-help, there goes, consistently, 
excessive prohibition of the exercise of faculty ; so 
that, not only is that exercise forbidden that interferes 
with the legitimate freedom of others, but, by anticipa- 
tion of motive, exercise of faculty is forbidden for its 
own sake ; and children are checked and limited in 
every direction by a comprehensive system of ' Don'ts ' 


and ' You mustu'ts ' applied to every mode of 
spontaneous activity. Since spontaneous activity is 
inherently pleasant, these prohibitions are easily 
extended to whatever activity is pleasant ; and it 
comes about under this regime, that children are 
urged and compelled to do what is distasteful, 
because it is distasteful to them ; and are prohibited 
from doing what is pleasant, because it is pleasant. 

The ill-consequences of this mode of training are 
less grave than those of the opposite mode. Children 
brought up under a Puritan regime, become, when 
adult, eminently capable. The ill-consequence of 
the training is shown chiefly in the reaction that is 
prone to follow when the stern hand of authority is 
removed. Then the long repressed craving for 
pleasurable activity is apt to break out in excessive 
manifestation ; and the riotous excesses of the 
adolescent who is suddenly freed from over-rigorous 
discipline, are sufficiently notorious. 

Filial conduct is the reciprocal of parental. As 
the part of the mother is to protect, nourish, and 
cherish the child ; so the part of the child is to be 
protected, nourished, and cherished by the mother ; 
and the corresponding conduct is purely passive, 
except in as far it requires a following and clinging to 
the mother on the part of the child. The reciprocal 
conduct of the child towards the father, whose 
conduct towards the child is rather directive than 
merely cherishing, is obedience ; for without obedience 
on the part of the child, the tuition of the father 
would be of no effect. 


Filial conduct, in respect of following the parent, 
and leaving to the parent the initiative in action, is 
often defective. Children are apt to be what is 
called wilful ; that is, to strike out modes of activity 
for themselves, without waiting for parental initiative. 
For satisfaction of curiosity, they play with fire and 
water, with razors and sharp tools ; they meddle ; 
they get into mischief; they wander, and get lost. 
It is often defective, too, in respect of obedience. 
That which is enjoined is not performed ; and that is 
done which is forbidden. Correct conduct in these 
respects, is, however, relative to the age and develop- 
ment of the child ; and the nice adaptation of 
mutual conduct, so that the child is allowed initiative 
as far as its safety permits, and is freed from the 
obligation of obedience as its own power of self- 
restraint develops, is often a matter of difiiculty. 
The usual tendency of the child is to arrogate to 
itself a premature initiative, and freedom from the 
bonds of obedience ; and for the parent to perpetuate 
the dependence of the child beyond what is necessary 
or useful ; but the reverse errors are not very 
infrequent. The parent carelessly allows the child 
to go its own way ; the child fails to assume a proper 
initiative, and remains in tutelage after the age of 
tutelage is past. Some parents there are, who never 
recognise the obligation of parenthood to guide and 
direct their children ; some children who remain 
children in adult age, and never dare assume the 
responsibility of deciding an important matter for 

As age advances, the respective parts of parent 



and child are first modified, and at length reversed. 
Command on the part of the parent is softened into 
exhortation ; and exhortation is modified into advice. 
Prohibition is replaced by warning, and warning by 
friendly caution. Then, after a period of discussion 
of modes of conduct on a basis of equality, comes a 
time when the aged parent needs protection, cherish- 
ing and nurture from the middle-aged child ; and 
the child looks for some surrender of initiative, some 
deference to his or her wishes, on the part of the 
parent. This is the course of nature ; but experience 
shows that it is often interfered with. There are 
parents who maintain, even to extreme old age, a 
tyrannical control over their children ; there are 
children who repudiate their obligations towards 
their aged parents, and would leave them destitute, 
in the absence of legal compulsion for their support. 
On the other hand, there are pious children, who 
devote, to the cherishing and support of a parent, 
years and energies that might well have been 
expended in the production and rearing of ofi'spring 
of their own ; and such conduct must be regarded, 
from the point of view of strict biology, as excessively 



Under this head are included those^modes of conduct 
whose biologic importance is indirect. Some biologic 
importance, some influence on the life- worthiness of 
the individual, the community, or the stirp, it would 
seem they must have ; or it would be difficult to ac- 
count, on biologic grounds, for their existence; but 
whatever influence they have on conservation, is 
indirect ; and it is from no avowed or recognised 
biologic motive that they are entered on. We shall 
find, in the course of our inquiry, that some of them 
have, in fact, great biologic importance, and are 
powerful factors in the preservation and survival of 
either the individual or the community ; and so, 
indirectly, of the stirp ; but their influence on this 
end is indirect. They are not undertaken from the 
motive of either self-conservation, or social or race 
conservation. Their pursuit depends on motives 
supplied ad hoc ; and whatever advantage they 
convey towards survival, is indirect, a quasi-incidental 
consequence of their pursuit ; unknown to, and unre- 
cognised by, the actor ; and would, in some cases, 
be heartily and honestly repudiated by him. The 



scientific investigator would repudiate with scorn 
the suggestion that he is actuated by any motive of 
utility. Indeed, he has been know^n to propose the 
toast, ' Here's to the latest scientific discovery, and 
may it never be of any use to any one ' ; and though 
he knows from innumerable instances, that the most 
recondite scientific investigation is apt to bear un- 
expected fruit in utilitarian application, this applica- 
tion is incidental only. It was from no utilitarian 
motive that the investigation was pursued ; and the 
investigator himself often looks with indifference on 
the utilitarian application of his discovery. Never- 
theless, were it not for the proved utility of investiga- 
tion, not the investigation only, but the investigator, 
would never have come into existence, as will pres- 
ently be shown. It is the indirect vital consequence 
of investigation, that alone renders possible the 
practice of investigation, and the existence of in- 
vestigators. The religious devotee would regard 
with abhorrence the suggestion that, in his devotion 
to his religion, the motive of utility has any place. 
Nor has it any place in his intention or knowledge ; 
but nevertheless, the inculcations of religion have a 
social utility, which is none the less powerful for 
being indirect ; and but for this utihty, it would 
be impossible to account, on biologic grounds, for 
the existence, in every community that is exposed 
to competition, of some religious belief, however 
grotesque ; some religious observance, however bar- 
barous, and prima facie anti-social. 

The indirectly vital modes of conduct are of four 
chief kinds — Recreative, Aesthetic, Investigative, 


BOOK 11 

and Religious. The four modes have manifest kin- 
ships, and two or more are often satisfied by the 
same act. Investigation is one mode of recreation ; 
the contemplation of beautiful things is another. 
The beauty of a thing often leads to its investiga- 
tion ; and religion at once satisfies our curiosity as to 
the origin and destination of men and things, and 
calls to its aid all the means we have of appealing to 
aesthetic appreciation. In attending a religious cere- 
monial, we gratify at once the instinct of religion or 
devotion, the need of exercising faculty, the apprecia- 
tion of beauty, and the dramatic sentiment. 

Recreative Conduct 

Recreative conduct consists of acts that are under- 
taken for the satisfaction of the mere exercise of 
faculty, and not primarily for the achievement of an 
end. Doubtless, in almost every recreative activity 
there is an end in view. Even in trundling a hoop, 
there is the end of keeping the hoop upright ; and 
even in playing patience with cards, or solitaire, 
there is a certain aim to be achieved in getting the 
cards into a certain sequence, or clearing the marbles 
off the board ; but these are not the primary aims of 
these recreations. The aim, even when achieved, is 
worthless. It serves no subsequent end. It con- 
tributes nothing to the sum of life. No one would 
undertake the exertion for the attainment of this end 
alone. If we wanted to arrange the cards in that 
particular order, it would be much easier to arrange 
them deliberately to that end, without observing the 


rules of the game. If we wanted to get the marbles 
off the board, we could do so by turning it upside 
down, without going through the elaborate ceremonial 
of the game. The games are undertaken, not 
primarily for the purpose of achieving their ostensible 
ends, but for the purpose of exercising the faculties 
used in attaining these ends. The achievement of 
the end answers no purpose, and gives no pleasure. 
It does not in the least matter in what order the 
cards are arranged, or whether the marbles are on or 
off the board, or whether the hoop is upright or 
horizontal. What does matter, and what the game 
is undertaken for, is not to get these things done, 
but to do them in a particular way, in a way fenced 
about with restrictions which make the doing difficult, 
and compel the exercise of a certain skill ; and it is 
in the exercise of this skill that the pleasure consists, 
and that the purpose of the game exists. Whatever 
satisfaction is felt at the successful issue of the game, 
is derived, not from the end achieved — the arrange- 
ment that has been made of the cards, or what not — 
but in the fact that faculty has been successfully 
exercised — that evidence has been obtained of the 
possession of skill. 

Early in this book, a distinction was drawn be- 
tween play and work ; and it may be expected that the 
distinction between recreative, and what maybe termed 
remunerative, activity, should correspond therewith ; 
but it will be seen that it does not. Play was 
defined as that which is agreeable and congenial to 
do : work as that which is irksome ; and it matters 
not to this distinction whether the play or the work 


is or is not biologically remunerative. Work is 
usually so remunerative, or is intended and hoped to 
be remunerative, it is true ; for were it not, there 
would be little motive for undertaking an occupation 
that is uncongenial ; and play is usually biologically 
unremunerative, but by no means necessarily so ; for 
it may be that the occupation which serves the 
conservation, direct or indirect, of the individual, or 
of the community, or of the race, may be congenial 
and pleasurable. But occupation undertaken for 
these ends, though it may be play, is not recreation 
in the sense in which that term is used here, for it is 
directly biologically remunerative. It is undertaken, 
not merely for the sake of pleasurably exercising 
faculty, but for the sake of an end that is biologically 
important. Just as there may be play which is 
biologically remunerative, and is therefore not re- 
creation ; as, for instance, when a man earns his 
living by an occupation that is thoroughly congenial 
and delightful to him ; so there may be work which 
is recreative in character, as when a man undertakes 
the distasteful task of preparing his fishing tackle, or 
filling his cartridges, in preparation for the biologi- 
cally unremunerative occupation of fly-fishing or 
partridge shooting on the morrow. Work and play, 
as here used, are, therefore, not necessarily equivalent 
with remunerative and recreative activity respec- 
tively, but have special meanings, which seem to be 

Recreative conduct, therefore, is conduct under- 
taken for the mere pleasure of exercising faculty, and 
without regard to any biologically useful end to be 


served thereby ; and, thus understood, recreation is 
commonly divided into intellectual and physical, 
according as the faculties exercised are, predominantly, 
the rearrangement of ideas, or muscular co-ordinations. 
I say predominantly, for the pure exercise of either, 
without any intermixture of the other, is rare. Even 
in playing chess, which is sometimes taken as the 
type of intellectual recreation, the pieces have to be 
moved by co-ordinated muscular action ; even in 
composing verses, at least incipient movements of 
articulation must accompany the process. Similarly, 
all muscular exercise, even that of rowing, which is, 
perhaps, the most automatic, is dependent for rate, 
extent, and other components, on mental guidance. 
Nevertheless, there is a certain real distinction to be 
made between the recreation that is preponderantly 
mental, and employs muscular co-ordination as a 
mere subsidiary ; and recreation that is preponder- 
antly muscular, and needs mental exertion merely 
for guidance. 

If, however, recreative activity is forbidden, by 
its very nature, from undertaking tasks that shall be 
biologically remunerative, what sphere of action is 
open to it ? what regions can it occupy ? The 
regions are two. One mode of recreative conduct 
consists in pursuing modes of action that once had a 
biological importance, but have ceased to be im- 
portant, and these are comprehensively termed sports ; 
the other in surmounting difficulties artificially 
created for the mere purpose of surmounting them, 
and these satisfy the definition of games. In either 
case, the interest of emulation may be added, and 


usually is added ; and we seek in recreation to outdo 
our fellows, and so gain their applause, as an 
additional gratification. 

One moiety of recreative activity consists in the 
pursuit of archaic or obsolete occupations — in the 
return to a more primitive state of affairs. A large 
number of the recreations of civilised men are founded 
on the chase, which was a vital occupation in a less 
civilised state of society. A favourite recreation of 
children is in climbing trees, which was a vital 
exercise to their simian ancestors. Coaching, the 
serious business of a former generation, is the recrea- 
tion of the present. Camping-out and picnicking 
are returns to an obsolete mode of existence. In the 
adult, recreative activity is employed to expend the 
residue of energy that remains over after the vital 
needs are satisfied. The vital needs of children, and 
of young vertebrates generally, are satisfied wholly 
or mainly by the exertions of their parents ; and the 
greater portion of the abounding energies of the 
young is available for recreation, and is expended in 
recreation. With children, as with adults, a moiety 
of recreation consists in surmounting difliculties 
artificially created for the purpose of exercising 
faculty in surmounting them. The remaining moiety, 
which in adults consists in reviving archaic occupa- 
tions, is, in children, for the most part imitation of 
the occupations of adults ; and this is the principle 
underlying the childish recreations of keeping shop, 
nursing dolls, playing horses, making pastry, and so 
forth. As the vital activities of the lower animals 
consist chiefiy in pursuit, in evading pursuit, and in 


conflict ; so we see the recreative activity of puppies 
expended in chasing one another, and in friendly 
contests, in which they growl and spring at one 
another, biting each other's limbs and ears, with 
tender precaution against actually hurting ; so we 
see the recreative activity of the kitten expend itself 
in springing on the pretended prey that is represented 
by a dead leaf or a reel of cotton ; so we see kids 
butt at one another, with precautions against mutual 

The moiety of recreative occupation which consists 
in the surmounting of artificial and conventional 
difficulties, created or imagined for the mere purpose 
of exercising faculty in overcoming them, includes all 
games, properly so called ; and in most games, the 
interest is enhanced by the introduction of emulation ; 
which is in part inspired by the instinct of combat, 
but in greater degree by that desire for admiration, 
and applause which we have seen to be such a 
powerful motive in human conduct. The natural 
and inherent interest of overcoming difficulties, is 
enhanced by the interest of overcoming an antagonist. 

Many recreations are of mixed character, and 
consist in following an archaic occupation fenced 
about with conventional restrictions. Foxes are 
hunted, not for the sake of killing them, but for the 
sake of overcoming the difficulties of killing them 
according to rule. The mere killing could be done 
more cheaply and expeditiously by shooting. Trout 
can be caught much more easily and certainly by 
the net or the worm than with the fly ; but, to 
render the occupation more recreative, it is made 




artificially difficult, so that skill may be exerted, and 
faculty exercised. 

Recreation is the natural mode of activity of the 
young, and, up to a certain age, is the sole mode of 
activity. To the young, it is of great importance ; 
for the exercise of faculty, in which recreation 
consists, is the most effectual means of educating 
and improving faculty ; and the more various the 
modes of recreation, the more widely is faculty 
developed in more numerous directions. Hence it is 
important that the young should have opportunity 
for recreation of very various kinds. In this respect, 
their recreations are very frequently defective. The 
children of the poor, especially in the slums of cities, 
are debarred by the circumstances of their lives from 
all but a very few modes of recreation. They have 
no toys ; they have no open spaces wherein to 
scamper at freedom ; they have no trees to climb ; no 
streams to wade in ; no mysteries of forest, glade, and 
copse to investigate ; no opportunity of acquainting 
themselves with the wonders of animal and vegetable 
life and growth. The children of the well-to-do, 
though they are less restricted, are still restricted 
unnecessarily. While at school, they are compelled 
to take part in certain conventional recreations, 
which, to many of the children are, though recreations, 
not play, but work ; since they are followed, not 
spontaneously because they are congenial, but from 
compulsion, being uncongenial. For these reasons, 
recreation is often deficient in the lives of the young. 
In the adult, recreation may be wanting, on account 
of the absorbing claims of remunerative employment. 



It may be, and often is, that the service that a person 
can render to the community, is of so little value, 
that its poverty in quality must be compensated by 
quantity ; and in order to gain a livelihood, so much 
energy must be expended on vital activity, that none 
is left over for recreation. Again, there are people in 
whom recreation is deficient from want of knowledge, 
imagination, and practice. Until late in life, their 
energies have been wholly absorbed in the business 
of earning a livelihood ; and, when this is at length 
secure, they have lost the capacity of recreation : 
they have neither interest nor capability for any 
except vital occupations, and any attempt at recrea- 
tion results in mere boredom. 

In children, recreation can scarcely be excessive, 
for all recreation conduces to enhancement of faculty, 
and much of the school-time of children is occupied 
by action that may be regarded as directed recreation. 
It is action that, if not undertaken, is at any rate 
imposed, for the mere purpose of exercising faculty, 
and not for the direct biologic profit to be obtained 
from it. It may be regarded as a straining of the 
ordinary meaning of words, to speak of the school 
tasks of children as recreative, but this sense of 
incongruity is due to the failure to distinguish 
between recreation and play. Many school tasks 
are recreative, since they have no direct biological 
profit ; but they may or may not be play, according 
as they are or are not congenial to the scholar. 

Whether the devotion of an adult to recreation is 
excessive or not, depends on the demands of his vital 
necessities. If he is provided with these by the 



exertions of his predecessors, or by his own previous 
exertion, there is no reason why his whole time 
should not be given to recreative occupation ; but if 
he is dependent on his own exertions for his own 
livelihood and that of his family, and if he diverts 
his energies from this object to recreation, so that 
his livelihood is defective, then recreation is clearly 

The origin of recreative conduct is not far to seek. 
It is the mode of expending that energy that is left 
unexpended when the vital needs are satisfied. When 
physical safety is assured ; when the livelihood is 
gained, and the means are administered ; when the 
duty towards the community is done, and the marital 
and parental functions performed ; the energies may 
still be unexhausted. A residue of motion may still 
remain in the nervous system, unexpended, and 
demanding expenditure. This residue is available 
for expenditure in recreation. Moreover, in children, 
and those whose means of livelihood are capitalised, 
the drain on the energies, necessitated by vital needs, 
is small ; and the residue left for expenditure is 
not only available for recreation, but imperatively 
demands expenditure ; and such expenditure, even if 
it take the form of application to business, and so 
increasing the store of wealth, is really recreative. 
It is undertaken, not at the imperious demand of 
supplying vital needs, but because it is a congenial 
mode of employing faculty. 

Though recreation is not directly profitable in a 
biological sense, yet indirectly it is of great utility. 
It is in recreative activity that the young animal 


learns to co-ordinate its movements, learns precision 
of action, acquires skill, obtains the necessary exercise 
of faculty that contributes to the growth of muscle, 
bone, nervous organisation, and general bodily 
efficiency ; and it is in recreative activity, which 
always takes a form widely different from that of 
the compulsory activity of earning the livelihood, 
that the adult broadens his mind, increases his 
capabilities, and preserves his health of both body 
and mind. 

Aesthetic Conduct 

From the point of view of pure biology — of the 
preservation of the stirp — the appreciation of beauty, 
and the considerable department of conduct that is 
based upon, and prompted by, the appreciation of 
beauty, are not easily explicable, Grace of motion, 
indeed, means ease of motion. It implies complete 
and efficient mastery over the movements, so that the 
maximum of effect is produced with the minimum of 
effort ; and it is clear that this is biologically 
advantageous. Caeteris paribus, graceful movement 
is economical movement. Form, again, is potential 
movement. We recognise form by ocular movements, 
and the application of the term ' graceful,' to form as 
well as to movement, rests upon an inarticulate, un- 
expressed recognition, that the appreciation of both 
is at bottom the same. The researches of Helmholtz 
into the nature of harmony, lead to the conclusion 
that those sounds are to us the most beautiful, in 
which the ratio of stimulation, to fatigue or dis- 

326 CONDUCT book h 

integration of tissue, is maximal ; and we may safely 
transfer this conclusion from sound to colour, and 
to other qualities. Beauty, therefore, in whatever 
form, means economy ; and the fact that beauty is 
not pursued for the sake of economy, does not detract 
in the least from its economical advantage ; any more 
than the fact that cleanliness is pursued for its own 
sake, and from dislike of dirt, detracts from its 
hygienic advantage. It must be admitted, however, 
that the economic advantage of beauty is not of 
sufficient magnitude to account for the appreciation 
of beauty, or for the enthusiasm that it inspires, and 
the eagerness with which it is pursued. The waste 
of effort in clumsy and awkward movements is rarely 
great enough to be material ; and the waste in 
contemplating ugly prospects, colours that swear at 
one another, or harsh and displeasing sounds, can 
scarcely ever be sufficient to determine the survival 
or non-survival of the contemplator. It must be 
acknowledged that the origin of aesthetic conduct is 
not to be found in biological advantage, and hence 
its proper inclusion among recreative activities. 

It has been shown that all forms of vital conduct 
owe their existence ultimately to the instinctive 
craving for the preservation of the stirp ; and it 
would be strange if the invocation of a second motive 
were needed to account for other conduct, even 
though this other conduct has, prima facie, no direct 
biological significance. Aesthetic conduct is no excep- 
tion to the rule that all conduct is ultimately based 
upon the motive of reproduction of the race. The 
earliest glimmerings of aesthetic conduct in the 


human race, are exhibited in personal adornment for 
the attraction of the opposite sex ; and whatever 
aesthetic conduct is exhibited in the lower animals, 
whether in the decoration of their haunts by the 
bowei-birds ; in the display of their adornments by 
birds of beautiful plumage ; in the exhibition of 
brilliant colours, or graceful movements or attitudes, 
by o:her animals ; are all limited to the period of 
courtship, if they are not also confined to the actual 
pursait of courtship. Aesthetic conduct owes its 
orio'in, in fact, to the motive of sexual attraction ; 
and is the earliest, as it is the most efficient, means 
of purging the approaches of courtship of their 
grosser elements and signification, and elevating the 
whole process to a higher plane. Once the value of 
beauty, and the love of beauty, as aids to the funda- 
mental function of courtship, are established ; in 
process of time beauty becomes, by anticipation of 
motive, an end to be pursued for its own sake. 

Whatever its origin, the appreciation of beauty, 
like other secondary functions of life, varies within 
much wider limits than the primary functions. Few 
indeed are the men in whom proneness to fall in 
love, and to court, are not strongly developed ; few 
indeed the women who lack the instinct of mother- 
hood ; but people are frequent enough in whom the 
instinct of sacrificing self to the common welfare is 
deficient ; and frequent enough are those whose sense 
of beauty, in some or all respects, is crude, is defective, 
or is altogether wanting. 

Aesthetic conduct has two distinct aspects — the 
passive and the active. The one consists in the 

328 CONDUCT book n 

contemplation, the other in the creation, of beautiful 
things for the sake of their beauty ; and of these we 
find that the second cannot exist apart from the first, 
but the first can, and very often does, exist apart 
from the second. In some kinds of art, as music, 
poetry, and the drama, there is a third aspect — the 
utterance of beautiful things created previously, and 
it may be, by some one other than the utterer. This 
is a special ability, that cannot exist in the absence 
of the appreciation of beauty, but may well go with- 
out the ability to create, which is much rarer. 

If beauty consists, as is here contended, in the 
maximal ratio of stimulation to fatigue, then beauty 
will vary to difierent persons, according to the 
sensitiveness to stimulation, and to the proneness of 
tissue to waste when stimulated. Where sensitive- 
ness to stimulation is obtuse, there beauty will not 
be perceived unless stimulation is violent ; and to 
such people beauty of colour consists in crude, vivid, 
and primary colours — scarlet, crimson, blue, purple, 
orange, yellow, and so forth ; and the contrasts must 
be violent, or the stimulation will be insufficient. 
Browns, greys, drabs, bufts, and secondary shades, 
produce, it is true, but little waste of tissue in their 
reception ; but they are so little stimulating that 
they fail to arouse a feeling of beauty in those who 
are not easily stimulated. To such people sounds 
will be beautiful that are loud and harsh, and thus 
are strongly stimulating : forms are beautiful that 
have strongly marked features — sharp contrasts — 
that exhibit exaggerated projections and cavities — 
and so forth. On the other hand, those who are 



sensitive to stimulation, who are easily stimulated by 
slight impressions, will, as a rule, be those in whom 
strong stimulation is disintegrative. The two 
qualities almost of necessity go together ; and in 
such persons a high ratio of stimulation to the dis- 
integration of tissue that stimulation produces, must 
be gained in other ways. To persons so constituted, 
violent stimulation produces an excess of disintegra- 
tion ; and the ratio of stimulation to disintegration 
being then low, violent stimulation does not produce 
the satisfaction of beauty, but the reverse. To them, 
crude and vivid colours are not beautiful except in 
small areas ; glaring colours in a picture, or in dress, 
must not predominate ; but must be limited to small 
patches here and there. Loud and harsh sounds in 
music must be infrequent. But, since large areas of 
inconspicuous colours, long continuance of gentle 
sounds, flatness of surface, and monotony in any 
respect, are always fatiguing, fatigue must be mini- 
mised, and stimulation maximised, by variety in 
the gentler modes of stimulation. To such natures, 
beauty consists in variety of shades of inconspicuous 
colours ; in variety of tone and loudness of har- 
monious sounds ; in gentle transitions of form — 
in curves rather than in angles, in balance and pro- 
portion rather than in exaggeration and emphasis. 

There is, therefore, no universal standard of beauty 
in anything. All beauty is relative to the perceiver. 
That which is beautiful to the robust nature, which 
is stimulated and fatigued with difficulty, is ugly to 
the more refined nature, that is easily stimulated, 
and therefore discriminates between small differences 



of stimulation ; and is readily fatigued, and there- 
fore intolerant of gross and crude stimulation ; while 
that which is beautiful to the latter nature, is 
merely insipid to the former. Those who say that 
they are no judges of pictures, for instance, or of 
music, but that they know what they like, incur 
the contempt of persons endowed by nature with 
greater powers of discrimination ; but for all that, 
express in homely terms the truth, that beauty is not 
absolute, but relative to the perceiver. At the same 
time, the ability to discriminate small differences, 
and thus to obtain increased stimulation from an 
impression that at first seems uniform ; and the 
ability to unify diverse impressions, and discover an 
underlying and fundamental unity, and thus diminish 
the fatigue that disconnected impressions produce ; 
are capable of increase by training and practice ; and 
thus the standard of beauty may undergo change ; 
but in changing, it still remains relative to individual 

The appreciation of beauty varies in different 
persons, not only relatively, with respect to the 
things that are regarded as beautiful, but absolutely, 
with respect to the gratification obtained from the 
contemplation of things that, to the individual, are 
beautiful. In other words, the capacity of appreciat- 
ing the ratio of stimulation to fatigue, varies very 
widely, both generally, and in respect of special 
modes of stimulation. There are natures so obtuse 
to stimulation, and so insensitive to fatigue, of the 
special senses, or of some of them, that all apprecia- 
tion of beauty, either generally, or in some special 


respect, is in them absent and unattainable. The 
most gorgeous sunset is devoid of beauty, not only 
to the blind, but to the colour-blind. The most 
expressive music is devoid of beauty, not only to the 
deaf, but to the tone-deaf; and it is curious how 
limited the defect of a special sense may be. 
Macaulay, who had a keen appreciation of rhythm 
in words, of the balance of a verbal sentence, and of 
tone in verbal utterance, was utterly insensitive to 
musical tone, and could never distinguish one musical 
air from another. Even when there is no defect of 
special sense, there may be such obtuseness, such 
inappreciation of the ratio of stimulation to fatigue 
generally, that the appreciation of beauty is absent. 
To such people, nothing is beautiful. To them beauty 
does not exist ; and that large region of pleasure 
is denied to them. Persons thus constituted have 
usually compensation, in the extra degree of skill they 
possess in extracting benefit from circumstances. 
They are usually successful men and women of 
business. It seems as if the want of interest in 
beauty, set free their faculties for greater concentra- 
tion on the business of extracting benefit from 
circumstances ; and in some way contributed to their 
skill in this direction. 

A high development of interest in beauty, and 
especially in the active form of aesthetic conduct, 
which shows itself in the creation of beautiful things, 
and the interpretation of beautiful things created by 
others, is apt to go with sundry undesirable qualities 
— with an inability to extract benefit from circum- 
stances, with self-indulgence, self conceit, untruthful- 


ness and selfishness. That these undesirable qualities 
are not necessarily associated with the appreciation of 
beauty, and the capability of creating and interpreting 
beautiful things, is shown by many instances, in 
which the two sets of qualities are severed ; but that 
they are associated with a frequency that invites 
explanation, is shown no less by the history of many 
distinguished artists, than by the common experience 
of mankind. 



An important set of indirectly vital activities is 
prompted by the instinct of Curiosity, and takes the 
form of investigation. This mode of conduct is not 
wholly free from biological significance ; on the 
contrary, it has a very high biological importance, 
inasmuch as it conduces more to progress, that is, to 
extension in the range and accuracy of adjustments 
to circumstances, than any other factor whatever. 
Curiosity prompts to investigation ; investigation 
leads to knowledge ; knowledge of circumstances is 
a necessary precedent to adjustment to circumstances, 
and to taking advantage of them. AVhatever 
investig^ation into circumstances is conducted with 
the direct aim of taking advantage of these circum- 
stances, to advance the life -worthiness of the 
individual, the community, or the race, is a directly 
vital activity, and does not properly fall to be 
considered here; but it would be inconvenient to 
separate the consideration of investigation into two 
parts, and as it is in the main an indirectly vital 
activity, it may properly be examined with the non- 
vital modes of conduct. 


334 CONDUCT book h 

Curiosity, the desire to know, the motive of 
investigation, is a very primitive instinct ; and is 
shared with man by many of the lower animals, and 
even by some of a low grade of organisation. 
Curiosity is excited by the appearance of incon- 
gruity, or, what is, for the present purpose, much 
the same thing, the unfamiliar. As the young being 
gradually acquires consciousness, it finds itself in 
certain surroundings, in which it acquiesces, and 
with which it becomes familiarised. As long as 
these familiar surroundings remain unchanged, the 
attitude of acquiescence continues, and curiosity does 
not arise ; but the importation of novelty into the 
surroundings, either by the intrusion of some new 
feature into them, or by change of place on the part 
of the observer, at once excites curiosity, which in 
its turn prompts investigation. 

While unfamiliarity is the earliest excitant of 
curiosity, that which is unfamiliar excites curiosity, 
not because it is unfamiliar, but because, and as far 
as, it is incongruous with what is familiar. Eemoval 
from familiar surroundings, into surroundings that, 
though unfamiliar, are similar to those that are 
familiar, excites no curiosity. Intrusion of a new 
element into familiar surroundings excites no or little 
curiosity, if the new element is like the familiar 
elements. On the other hand, in surroundings that 
are thoroughly familiar, curiosity may be aroused, 
if incongruity is recognised. The observers who 
founded the science of astronomy, by investigating 
the relations of the celestial bodies, were not un- 
familiar with these bodies. They had been familiar 


with the sun, moon, stars, and planets, from child- 
hood. AVhat excited them to investigation was not 
any unfamiliarity, but the utter incongruity of the 
celestial bodies with terrestrial phenomena. Here 
were things that were incongruous with all the rest 
of familiar things — incongruous in their separateness 
and inaccessibility ; incongruous in their regular and 
gradual movements ; incongruous in their luminosity. 
It was these incongruities that excited curiosity, and 
led to investigation. 

No doubt investigation, like all other modes of 
action, has, in its origin, a biological significance. 
Every living being is adapted to live in certain 
surroundings ; and so long as those surroundings, to 
which it is adapted, remain unchanged, it is in safety, 
or in comparative safety ; but the importation into 
its surroundings of an unfamiliar element, is a 
potential danger ; and it is of vital consequence to 
the animal to know whether this potential danger 
is a real danger ; and, if so, what is the nature of 
the danger. If the animal passively awaits the 
manifestation of the danger, it is not in as advan- 
tageous a position to combat or elude the danger, 
as if it were forewarned of its nature, and mode and 
time of incidence. These factors can only be dis- 
covered by investigation ; and thus we see that the 
hatred of change, and the passion of curiosity, have, 
at bottom, the same origin — the appreciation of the 
danger that lurks in what is unfamiliar. Conserva- 
tism says, ' The unfamiliar is potentially dangerous, 
therefore let us destroy it.' Curiosity says, 'The 
unfamiliar is potentially dangerous and potentially 


profitable ; therefore let us investigate it to discover 
which potentiality is actual.' The attitude of con- 
servatism is unquestionably the safer. If what is 
unfamiliar is incontinently destroyed, its potential 
dangers are annihilated ; and, as far as they are 
concerned, safety is ensured. The attitude of 
curiosity is the more risky, but it is also more 
enterprising. It contains greater possibilities of 
danger ; but greater possibilities of benefit also. 
The investigator thrusts his hand into the jaws of 
danger, and whether his hand will be bitten off, or 
whether he will be able to withdraw it full of riches, 
he cannot know until the experiment has been made. 
Thus the conservative is safe, but unprogressive ; 
the path of investigation is strewn with the bones of 
rash investigators. The investigator is obnoxious to 
a double danger. Not only is his investigation in 
itself dangerous, in proportion to the strangeness of 
the matter that he is investigating, as exemplified 
in innumerable instances, from the death of the 
moth that investigates the flame, to the death of the 
X-ray operator from cancer ; but the investigator is 
in danger, also, from the animosity of his conservative 
fellow, whose self-preservative instinct is outraged 
by the toleration that the investigator displays 
towards the unfamiliar. 

It is clear, however, that every successful investiga- 
tion, fatal though it may be to the investigator, is 
advantageous to the community which has knowledge 
of the result of the investigation. The community 
will have learnt, at least, that the matter investigated 
is for certain dangerous, which was formerly in 


doubt ; and can scarcely be without some indication 
of a way, or ways, in which the danger may be 
avoided. Communities in which investigators abound, 
will, therefore, have a very real advantage over those 
in which investigators are wanting ; and thus, in spite 
of the double disadvantage under which investigators 
lie, and of the discouragements that they suffer, the 
communities that produce them will prevail over 
other communities ; and in this way it will be 
secured that investigators will always be forthcoming. 
Occasionally, and in a minority of instances, that 
tends to increase as the common advantage of 
investigation becomes more and more recognised, 
investigation is advantageous to the investigator 
himself; and in isolated instances, in which the 
investigation leads to results that are immediately 
beneficial to large numbers, and the investigator is 
able to reap the fruits of his own investigation, the 
beneficial results to him are very great. For these 
reasons, investigation is secure of continuance ; but 
it is important to notice that the actual profit 
obtainable by the individual, is not the most potent 
motive prompting to investigation. The true and 
actuating motive, in the majority of cases, is pure 
curiosity — the desire to know — and although most 
of the investigations prompted by pure curiosity 
have no immediate biologic importance whatever, it 
is easy to see how the instinct of curiosity arose out 
of strictly biological conditions. For, in some cases, 
investigation possesses a biologic importance to the 
investigator ; and in very many cases it is of 
importance to the community to which he belongs ; 


338 CONDUCT book n 

and for these reasons, the instinct of curiosity, which 
prompts to investigation, is secure from extinction. 
But we have seen again and again how a mode of 
conduct that was originally followed for the attain- 
ment of some ulterior end, comes in course of time 
to be followed for its own sake, and without regard 
to its consequence. It is in accordance with this 
law of anticipation of motive, that investigation, 
originally pursued for the discovery of danger or of 
advantage, comes, in course of time, to be pursued 
for its own sake, and without regard to any biologic 
advantage to be gained thereby. The transition is, 
in this case, all the easier, since, in many cases, 
investigation, initiated for biologic reasons, attains 
no biologic result. The practice of investigation 
arises from the biologic importance of discovering 
whether an appearance, incongruous with familiar 
appearances, contains elements of danger. In 
consonance with the importance of this mode of 
action, arises the instinct — curiosity — which prompts 
it ; and the instinct, once established, prompts 
conduct for its own satisfaction, and regardless of 
the end for whose attainment it took its origin. 
Thus it comes about that phenomena of every order, 
from the doings of our next-door neighbours, to the 
movements of the most distant nebulae ; and from 
the arrangement of the pattern on a pot, to the 
arrangement of atoms in a molecule ; become objects 
of curiosity, and subjects of investigation. 

Curiosity is excited by incongruity with what is 
familiar ; and the aim of investigation is to reduce 
the incongruous to congruity. The dangers and the 


securities of what is familiar, are known, or are 
believed to be known ; and with respect to them, 
the mind is at rest. But the dangers and securities 
of what is incongruous with the familiar are un- 
known, and infinite possibilities of danger may lurk 
therein. Hence, the incongruous is awe-inspiring 
and terrifying. A horse or a dog that witnesses a 
sheet of paper moved by the wind, is struck with 
terror at witnessing apparently spontaneous move- 
ment in an apparently inanimate thing. A human 
being who witnesses table-turning and ' levitation,' 
is inspired with precisely similar emotion from a 
similar cause. Awe and terror are painful, and 
arouse a keen desire to escape from them ; and 
hence the eagerness with which we strive to explain 
the incongruous ; that is, to bring it into congruity 
with what is familiar. This eagerness, originating 
with respect to things that inspire awe and terror, 
is, by anticipation of motive, extended to pheno- 
mena of all orders ; and, among the instincts that 
seem to be primitive, but are in fact doubly and 
trebly derivative, is that of finding explanations for 

Our first endeavour, in presence of the unfamiliar, 
is to attain knowledge : and knowledge is attained by 
investigation. The unfamiliar thing is investigated ; 
that is, it is submitted to the examination of the 
senses. We look at it, listen to it, smell it, and 
perhaps taste it. We touch it and handle it, so as 
to ascertain its tangible qualities, — its hardness or 
softness ; its smoothness or roughness ; its brittleness 
or toughness ; its heaviness or lightness ; its rigidity 

340 CONDUCT book u 

or flexibility ; and when we have ascertained its 
qualities, we assign to it a place in the scheme of 
familiar things. We classify it as living or dead ; 
as organic or inorganic ; and within these classes, we 
classify it again, as noxious or innoxious, animal or 
vegetable, eatable or uneatable, beautiful or ugly, and 
so forth ; and this ascertainment of the qualities of a 
thing, its reduction into the scheme of known things, 
and the assignment of it to a place therein, is the 
acquirement of a knowledge of the thing. Explana- 
tion is applied, not to the statical, but to the 
dynamical aspect of things. We know what a thing 
is ; we explain how it became what it is. We know 
that it moves, and the path of its movement ; we 
explain how it comes to move, and to move in that 
path. Explanation is, in short, knowledge of causa- 
tion ; and this is the ultimate aim of all investigation. 
Knowledge of the statical aspect of things, however 
complete it may be, leaves us still unsatisfied. 
' Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.' Not 
until we can explain the causes of things, do we 
satisfy the restless spirit of inquiry ; and the 
biological significance of this unrest is manifest. 
Not until we have ascertained the causes of things, 
can we subdue them to our purposes. Not until we 
know how things happen, can we prevent or assist 
their happening ; and it is to make things happen, or 
to prevent their happening, that all our endeavours are 
directed ; for it is the happening or non -happening of 
events that determines the prevalence of the race, the 
welfare of the community, and the survival of the indi- 
vidual, from age to age, and from moment to moment. 



The instinct of curiosity differs very widely in 
different people, both as to its ardour and as to its 
direction ; and investigatory conduct shows corre- 
sponding differences. In ardour, there are all degrees ; 
from the incurious person who is content to accept 
every appearance at its surface value, without ever a 
thought of verification, or of attaining an amplifica- 
tion or a greater exactitude of knowledge ; who 
regards happenings as conditioned immediately by 
Fate, or by the will of the Deity, and seeks no inter- 
mediate or proximate causation ; and at the other 
are those who take nothing for granted, but find, in 
the most familiar or the most trifling appearance, a 
stimulus to investigation, that still increases in 
range and in exactitude, and regards every explana- 
tion as unsatisfactory, until it is itself explained. 
Primitive investigators are content if they acquire 
such a knowledge of a thing that they can recognise 
it on a new occasion, and attach a name to it : 
developed investigation demands an exact knowledge 
ol all its properties, physical, vital, chemical, electrical, 
and so forth. Primitive curiosity is content with the 
explanation that a thing is so because God wills it 
to be so : developed curiosity demands an explanation 
of the precise conditions under which alone a thing 
can come to be as it is, and an absolute and relative 
quantitative measurement of the conditions that 
produce a given quantity of effect. Primitive 
curiosity is content with a single step, and is 
complete if the immediate antecedents of a state 
of things are identified : developed curiosity is un- 
satisfied until a long series of causes has been dis- 

342 CONDUCT book n 

covered ; but both end alike in unexplainable mystery. 
The difference is that primitive curiosity is content 
to assert that mystery is unexplainable ; developed 
curiosity is for ever concerned to push the unexplain- 
able a step farther back. 

The direction of investigation seems to be 
determined, to some extent, by training and 
opportunity ; but more largely by innate capacity 
and character. A mighty mathematician would not 
necessarily make an expert bacteriologist ; nor would 
the discoverer of unsuspected philological truths be 
by any means as competent in discovering un- 
suspected chemical elements, or minor planets. The 
main types of investigators are the investigators 
of the concrete, and the investigators of the abstract ; 
and these practically correspond with the accumulators 
of knowledge, and the explainers. The first are the 
pioneers ; the second the completers. The first 
accumulate data for the others to utilise. The type 
of the first is Linnaeus ; the type of the second is 
Newton. Each is the complement of the other, and 
both are necessary to the advance of knowledge. 
Mere accumulation of facts, without corresponding 
explanation, is barren of result. It is of no biological 
utility. It achieves no mastery over events. Mere 
explanation without sufficient accumulation of data, 
is more often wronor than rio^ht. It leads to crude 
hypothesis and erroneous generalisation. For in- 
vestigation to be fertile, the two modes must go 
hand in hand. 

Another division of investigators is into those who 
are curious of matters that are of immediate practical 


moment, and have a direct bearing on human 
affairs ; and those who concern themselves mainly 
with matters remote from material interests. The 
division is a real one, but its boundaries are very 
indistinct ; since affairs that are, for the moment, the 
most remote from human interests, may at any time 
prove to have an immediate practical bearing on 
daily life. The observation of the heavenly bodies 
rendered navigation possible ; and the recondite 
investigations of Clerk Maxwell into electric emana- 
tions, have resulted in the arrest of an escaped 

More material is the distinction between that 
investigation which is directed towards the doings of 
our fellows, and that which lies outside this range. 
The action of others is of the most immediate 
concern to all of us ; and curiosity with respect to it 
is felt by every one. Our first interest is in the 
action of others towards ourselves, but this is a 
matter that does not need to be investigated. It 
thrusts itself upon us, and makes itself felt; and 
action of this character has already been considered 
under the head of social conduct. Nor does the 
action of others on others, as a matter vitally affect- 
ing the welfare of others, or the stability of the 
community, fall to be considered in this place. Out- 
side and apart from these interests, there is another 
interest that we have in the doings of others — a 
curiosity to know of their doings, apart from any 
effect these doings may have on ourselves or others : 
a curiosity to know how they comported themselves 
in situations of danger, of difficulty, of complexity, 



of embarrassment, of novelty even, and to trace the 
course and effect of their conduct. It is clear that, 
in this way, we gain a vicarious experience, that may 
be of value to us in similar circumstances ; and it 
seems probable that in this biologic advantage, the 
interest in narrative and the drama may have had 
its origin. This view seems to gain corroboration 
from the way in which we identify ourselves with the 
protagonists of the narrative. As we read, or hear, 
or witness, the acting of the story, their troubles, 
their joys, their successes and reverses, their triumphs 
and humiliations, are our own. In the hero or 
heroine we recognise ourselves, and measure their 
doings by our own inclinations. In as far as we do 
not identify ourselves with the depicted characters 
of the narrative, we are actuated by sympathy with 
them : they are our friends, our brothers and sisters, 
our family, our intimates ; and all that happens to 
them, and all that they do, are of vital interest to us. 
Beyond this, we are interested in the story as 
a progressive process, tending towards a climacteric 
conclusion ; and the attainment of this conclusion is 
gratifying and satisfactory ; or, more accurately, the 
arrest and interruption of a progressive process is 
irksome and displeasing, and is to be overcome by 
pursuit to a settled end. The reason of this desire to 
learn the conclusion of a story once begun, is not far 
to seek. The whole conduct of mankind, and of all 
animate beings capable of conduct, is the pursuit 
of ends. It is in the pursuit of ends that all our 
lives are passed ; it is to the attainment of ends that 
all our energies are directed. Bafflement, interruption, 


delay, in the pursuit of ends ; diversion from the 
direct pursuit ; are all irksome, displeasing, and 
disappointing ; and the smooth progress towards an 
aim, of whatever kind the aim may be, is gratifying 
and delightful. It is out of this that a large part, 
perhaps the largest part, of the interest of narrative 
is derived. The initial difficulty of a narrator is to 
arouse our interest in his story — to gain our 
sympathy for his characters — and his next task is to 
indicate the course they are travelling. Once he has 
succeeded in these objects, the rest is easy. When a 
moving object catches the eye, the natural impulse is 
to follow it until it comes to rest, or passes out of 
sight ; and once a story is on foot, we are interested 
in following it to its climax, or as far as circumstances 
allow. Although the interest in narrative and drama, 
that is common to the whole human race, is a purely 
recreative activity, extremely remote from biologic 
advantage, the preceding considerations enable us 
to trace its origin as a by-product of the biological 
struggle. It owes its existence in some small degree 
to self-interest, more largely to sympathy, and in still 
greater degree to that desire to pursue an end, merely 
for the pleasure which is inherent in the pursuit, 
whether the end itself is biologically advantageous 
or not. 

Conduct of this order, like aesthetic conduct, to 
which it is nearly allied, is three-fold. It may con- 
sist in the passive reception of narrative, or the 
passive witnessing of dramatic representation of a 
narrative ; or in the invention of a story ; or in the 
interpretation to third parties of a story invented by 

346 CONDUCT book h 

some one else. So close a similarity has led to the 
inclusion of the labours of the creator of fiction, the 
dramatist, and the actor, among the fine arts. If by 
fine art is meant the creation of beautiful things, the 
inclusion is not justified ; for stories can fulfil their 
function, of engaging and maintaining interest, with- 
out containing any element of beauty ; but if by fine 
art is meant the pursuit, and the creation of interest 
in a recreation, then, no doubt, narrative and drama 
are fine arts ; but it is worth while to insist upon 
the distinction. 



Religious conduct is one of the indirectly vital 
modes of action, in that it has no direct bearing on 
life- worthiness ; though it resembles the other modes 
of action of this class, in having an indirect bearing 
that is of great importance. Religious conduct has 
intimate connections with other indirectly vital 
activities. It is intimately connected with aesthetic 
conduct ; for the religious emotion finds expression in 
architecture, in sculpture, in painting, in music, in 
richness of costume, in embroidered altar cloths, in 
stained windows, in every kind of combination of 
beauty of form, sound, and colour. Even the sense 
of smell is appealed to by the burning of incense ; 
even grace of motion takes its part, in religious 
dances, in the expression of religious emotion. 

Religious conduct has close relations, also, with 
investigation ; relations that are sometimes amicable, 
sometimes the reverse. Every religion expounds a 
theory of the cosmos, and offers explanations of 
events. Every religion upholds the accuracy of the 
knowledge it inculcates, and discourages investiga- 
tion that may tend to impugn the accuracy of 


348 CONDUCT book n 

that knowledge ; explains events by invoking the 
will of the Deity, and frowns upon other explana- 

Conduct prompted by the religious instinct — the 
desire to propitiate a more or less exacting Deity, — is 
prima facie, inimical to self-conservation. Every 
religion inculcates, in greater or less degree, the 
practice of asceticism, self-denial, and self-sacrifice ; 
and valuable, and biologically advantageous, as these 
practices are, to the life- worthiness of the community, 
they are detrimental to that of the individual who 
practises them. When asceticism is pushed, as, 
under the promptings of the religious instinct, it 
often is pushed, to the actual damage to health and 
strength, its detriment to life-worthiness is manifest ; 
and, in as far as religious observance exceeds the 
time, effort, and energy, that can properly be be- 
stowed upon indirectly vital conduct, and encroaches 
upon those modes that are necessary to maintain the 
conservation of self, in so far it is detrimental to the 
individual. But the welfare of the individual is, as 
we have seen, not the ultimate purpose of life. In 
the scheme of nature, the welfare of the individual is 
a very secondary purpose, liable to be set aside at 
any moment, and sacrificed to the welfare of the 
community, and still more unceremoniously to the 
welfare of the race. The self-regarding instincts 
have, however, a very strong valency, and are prone 
to take precedence, in determining conduct, of both 
social and secondary-racial instincts. It is in re- 
inforcing these instincts, which are of so much more 
importance to the ultimate purpose of life, that 


religious emotion, and the desires that it prompts, 
are of such great biological importance. 

For religious observance is inextricably bound up 
with social conduct, and with reproductive conduct ; 
and profoundly influences both. The foundation of 
social conduct has been shown to be self-restraint, 
and the foundation of reproductive conduct, self- 
sacrifice ; and every religion inculcates self-restraint, 
from the innumerable restrictions of taboo, to the 
decorum of church service ; every religion inculcates 
self-sacrifice, from the self-inflicted tortures of the 
fakeer, to the collection after service. 

The social advantage of the prevalence of a 
religion, to the community in which it prevails, 
consists, first and most, in the reinforcement and the 
sanction that religion gives to the practice of self- 
restraint generally. The association of mankind, as 
of other animals, in communities, requires and neces- 
sitates the forgoing of much of the spontaneous 
activity of each individual, in deference to the safety, 
the welfare, the comfort, and the" feelings of his 
fellows. The other two great vital activities — the 
self-regarding and the reproductive — are, as has 
already been shown, antagonistic to the social 
activities, which again detract from both, and yet 
serve both. The time, the energy, the share of life 
that are expended upon the conservation and ad- 
vancement of the community, are abstracted from 
being directly expended on the conservation of the 
self, and on the reproduction of the race. They are 
abstracted from direct expenditure on these aims, 
and expended on social conservation, so that, by 

350 CONDUCT book n 

means of the maintenance of a stable, compact, and 
efficient community, the conservation of the indi- 
viduals that compose it may be the more secure, and 
the continuation of the race the better ensured. In 
order that the ultimate aim of life — the evolution of 
a race of great staying power — may be most efficiently 
compassed, it is necessary that a nice balance should 
be preserved between the three primary modes of 
activity. But of these three modes, two have, from 
their much greater antiquity, a preponderance over 
the third ; and constantly tend, in consequence, to 
absorb the whole, or at any rate an undue share, of 
the life of the individual, to the detriment of the 
third, — the social department of conduct, — which is 
of co-ordinate importance, and cannot be neglected 
without injury to the other two. Hence, any influence 
which tends to preserve the balance, and to corro- 
borate and reinforce the social instincts against the 
encroachment of the self-regarding and the repro- 
ductive, has a very high biological value ; and the 
community in which such an influence exists, will 
have an advantage, and will prevail against those in 
which it is absent. Hence we find that in every 
militant community — in every community that has 
had to sustain itself by strife with others, and has 
prevailed, some religion is a dominant factor. Those 
communities only are without religion, or allow to 
religion but a small share of influence, that are, 
like the Esquimaux, isolated, or protected in some 
way against competition ; and those nations in which 
religion has decayed, and its influence has subsided, 
have been uniformly unsuccessful in their struggle 


against those in which religion has been powerful 
and influential ; while caeteris paribus, the fanatic- 
ally religious have been uniformly successful against 
those in whom religious fervour has been lukewarm. 
History is so full of illustrative instances, that it is 
not worth while to adduce them, for every reader 
can supply them for himself. 

The only communities that have reached a very 
high grade of organisation without the aid of religion, 
are those of the social insects ; and in these, one of 
the factors that conflicts with sociality is absent. It 
is highly significant that the only communities that 
have reached a high grade of organisation without 
the assistance of religion, are those in which almost 
the whole of the component individuals are sexually 
neuter. The drones are but temporary and adventi- 
tious constituents of the community, and there is but 
one fertile female ; so that, virtually, the community 
consists of neuters only. Hence, instead of three 
conflicting fundamental instincts, there are, in these 
communities, but two ; and the problem is vastly 
simplified. It is true that these neutral females have 
parental duties to fulfil, and possess corresponding 
instincts ; but on the other hand, the self-regarding 
and the social instincts are but little difierentiated ; 
and the building of comb and the gathering of stores, 
that subserve the one purpose, are equally available 
for the other. 

The biological function of religion is, therefore, 
to exalt and inculcate social conduct, and to depre- 
ciate and restrain self-regarding and reproductive 
conduct. In the Jewish and Christian religions, 

352 CONDUCT book n 

which together influence a large proportion of the 
human race, the fundamental inculcations are those 
of the decalogue ; and these are occupied, first in 
establishing a sanction, and second in applying this 
sanction to the prohibition of such self-regarding con- 
duct as is antisocial. It is true, and it is surprising, 
that the decalogue inculcates no restriction of repro- 
ductive conduct, for the seventh commandment is 
directed against reproductive conduct not per se, but 
only in as far as it is antisocial ; but this omission 
from the decalogue is amply supplied, in the Hebrew 
code by the prohibitions in Leviticus, and in the 
Christian code by a body of doctrine, partly canonical 
and partly traditional, which is strongly regulative 
and restrictive of reproductive conduct. The en- 
forced celibacy of the clergy, and of the monastic 
orders, is not peculiar to Christianity, nor is it a 
mere ecclesiastical discipline, instituted for the wel- 
fare and aggrandisement of the Church. It rests upon 
a far deeper foundation. It is a manifestation of the 
fundamental function of religion, to frown upon, dis- 
countenance, and restrict the two other primary modes 
of conduct that conflict with social conduct. This is 
the biological function of religion. 

A large part of religious conduct is occupied with 
worship and religious observance, which seem remote 
from all biological implication ; but which have, 
nevertheless, their biological value, which is to 
emphasise and enforce the sanction under which the 
inculcations of religion are made. In order that 
these inculcations may be attended to, in order 
that the prohibitions of religion shall be observed, 


and the exhortations carried out, there must be a 
sanction behind them, or they will be of no effect. 
This sanction is the power and will of the Deity 
to punish the disobedient and the recalcitrant ; and 
all religious observance has the effect — I do not say 
that it is deliberately designed to this end, but it has 
the effect — of impressing the observers with the power 
of the Deity, and His willingness to interfere in human 
affairs. No doubt, religious observance arises out of 
this very impression on the part of the observers. 
All religious observance is, in its origin, propitiatory, 
and arises out of the belief that the Deity is, or may 
be, ill-disposed towards His votaries, and must be pro- 
pitiated. The origin of religious observance is in the 
desire to propitiate a being who is malignant. I 
know of no primitive religion in which the deities are 
conceived as benevolent. As religion advances in 
grade, the deities advance from malignancy to a 
capricious indifference to the welfare of humanity, 
and it is at a very late stage in the evolution of 
man's concept of God, that He is regarded as bene- 
volent. Even in its latest and highest development, 
religious observance retains its propitiatory character, 
and is occupied largely in deprecating the vengeance, 
the ill-will, the severity, the justice, of the Arbiter of 
human destinies. The result of these observances 
is the creation and confirmation of a tremendous 
sanction, endorsing the exhortations and prohibitions 
of religion, and productive of a terror of neglecting 
them. The splendour of the buildings that are 
devoted to religious observance ; the elaborate cere- 
monial ; the impressive music ; the gorgeous decora- 


354 CONDUCT book n 

tion ; the appeal to every sense ; impress upon the 
minds of the beholders a conviction of the profound 
importance of the function in which they are engaged ; 
of the might, majesty, dominion, and power of the 
Deity for whose service the whole is undertaken ; 
and of the appalling consequences that are likely 
to result from disreo-ard of His behests. 


Religious conduct is, therefore, divisible into two 
categories — religious observance, whose object is the 
propitiation of the Deity, and the rendering of worship 
and honour ; and the carrying out of the behests 
that the religion inculcates. These behests vary in 
detail, and in their particular character, with each 
particular religion ; but common to them all is the 
inculcation of self-restraint, and the restriction of 
reproductive activity. In either category, religious 
conduct may be defective or excessive, and defect and 
excess, respectively, of the two modes of conduct, are 
by no means necessarily concurrent. It may, and 
often does happen, that religious observance is 
punctiliously complete, and may even be excessive, 
and yet that the moral restrictions that religion 
inculcates are utterly disregarded ; so that we witness 
the strange spectacle of a bandit or an assassin 
attending religious observance, and invoking divine 
assistance in the perpetration of a robbery or a 
murder. Again, we witness the punctilious adhesion 
to a high code of moral conduct in the absence of any 
religious observance, and combined with indifference, 
neglect, and even contempt, of religious ceremonial. 

Religious observance may be defective in two 
ways. It may be simply defective, either from lack 


of what may be termed the rehgious iDstinct, or from 
lack of training and example. This form of religious 
conduct, like other forms of indirectly vital conduct, 
exhibits extremely wide divergencies in different 
people. Just as there are people who have no 
appreciation of beauty, either generally, or in some 
particular, as beauty of sound, or colour, or form ; 
and are incapable of producing beautiful things of 
either of these kinds ; so there are people who have 
no pleasure in religious observance, either as taking 
part in it themselves, or as witnessing its perform- 
ance by others. Those whose minds have not risen 
to the conception of the existence of a Deity, 
naturally are not moved to action for the propitiation 
of a Deity. The irreligious, those who are indifferent 
to religion, who, denying, neglecting, or ignoring the 
existence of God, take no part in religious observance, 
are, for the most part, limited to dwellers in large 
towns, or to those who have passed the early and 
impressionable part of their lives in large towns. 
And the reason is manifest. In towns, the vast 
majority of things that engage attention are the 
work of men's hands. There is little that is not 
explainable by human agency. The great and im- 
pressive phenomena and forces of nature are not in 
evidence ; and such as there are, are presented, not 
in their elemental aspect, but as unimportant 
hindrances to human endeavour, such as rain and 
wind ; or as contributing to human needs, as river 
and sunshine. The unutterable sense of power and 
mystery that is evoked in the mind by the contem- 
plation of mountain, sea, forest, or illimitable plain ; 


by storm and flood ; by the wonders of vegetation 
and of wild animal life ; are unknown to the dwellers 
in a great city. His eyes are not uplifted to the sky. 
The day begins and ends, l)ut its duration is scarcely 
connected, in his mind, with the rising and setting of 
the sun, which he does not witness. The glories of 
sunrise and sunset, the forms and movement of 
clouds, the wonder and mystery of the stars, gain 
from him no attention. His interests are concen- 
trated on what is passing immediately around him, 
on the sayings and doings of his fellow-men, on what 
is enacted in the room or the street ; and extend no 
farther. What manifestly and directly aff'ects his 
life, and determines his successes and failures, are 
not natural forces, — heat and cold, rain and drought, 
climate and soil, vegetation and animal life ; — but the 
disposition and conduct of his fellow -men. Those 
things are not brought to his notice ; or, if they are, 
it is but by hearsay ; and they may be troublesome, 
but are not catastrophic incidents in his life. They 
do not strike at the roots of his existence ; they do not 
plainly affect his life-worthiness ; they do not call 
upon his vital activities ; and consequently, they do 
not imperatively demand from him, as they do from 
the countryman, a hypothesis of their origin. Hence, 
it is in towns that scepticism has its origin and its 
home. Unless religion is communicated by direct 
inculcation, the town-dweller knows nothing of it ; 
and even direct inculcation may not be easy, for the 
soil is not prepared for the seed. Hence, it is in 
large towns, mainly, that religious observance is 
defective, that the natural tendency to it is often 



wanting, and that the exertions of the clergy meet 
with the least response. 

A curious defect in religious observance is its 
performance by deputy, or vicariously. Religious 
conduct, and the instincts which prompt it, resemble 
other indirectly vital instincts and modes of conduct, 
in exhibiting a great diversity of degree in different 
people. In some, the religious instinct, that is, the 
desire of religious observance, is evanescent ; in others 
it is very strongly developed. To some it is irksome ; 
to others, grateful. Moreover, it will happen, in the 
course of religious observance, that the propitiatory 
value of the observance of some will appear greater 
than that of others. The prayer of one is followed 
by fulfilment ; that of another is not. Or, what is 
the same thing for the purpose in hand, one person 
will arrogate to himself, or will be credited by others 
with, a superior efficacy in interpreting the will of 
the Deity, and especially in modifying His intentions. 
It is natural that, when such a belief in the superior 
efficacy of any one is established, his services should be 
invoked by others ; and it is natural, also, that such 
services should have a value, and should demand, and 
receive, remuneration. If the demand is sufficient, 
the possessor of this superior efficacy will be able to 
subsist entirely upon the contributions of the faithful ; 
and thus is established, in every community, that 
has advanced beyond a very rudimentary stage of 
organisation, a priesthood, subsisting on the profits 
of religious observance. The interests of the priest- 
hood, no less than the belief in the superior efficacy 
of their ministrations, will ensure that, more and 


more, the brunt and tlie burden of religious observ- 
ance will be undertaken by them ; while to the laity- 
will be left merely the duty of chiming in with the 
priesthood, concurring with, and endorsing their 
observance, but taking no part beyond that of a 
chorus. In order that this subordinate function 
may be fixed and cemented upon the laity, and the 
distinction between them and the priesthood become 
wider, deeper, and more impassable, religious observ- 
ance will become more and more elaborate, more and 
more mysterious, until it may at length require 
years of training to perform with accuracy ; until it 
may at length be conducted with ceremonies, and 
even in a language, unintelhgible to the laity. By 
this time, the priesthood become, in common estima- 
tion, the sole repositories, not only of the power of 
propitiating the Deity, but of His intention and will ; 
and thus become the arbiters of the fate of the laity 
in every respect ; and their arrogance and exactions 
become intolerable. It has been shown supra that 
religion is an important biological asset in the life 
of a nation, and that caeteris j^ciribus, the religious 
nation will prevail over the irreligious. It is now to 
be noticed that the dominance of a priesthood is 
detrimental to the life-worthiness of a nation, and 
that, caeteris paribus, the priest-ridden nation will 
go down before that which is not so dominated. For 
a priest-ridden nation is, of necessity, and by its 
constitution, poor, ignorant, and, what is biologically 
more important, divided in allegiance, in comparison 
with one in which the priesthood has little power. 
It is, in comparison, poor, because the advantageous 


circumstances of the priesthood, which is an un- 
productive occupation, attract into its ranks a large 
proportion of the ambitious and the able members of 
the community ; leaving the productive part of the 
community, not only burdened with the support of an 
enormous number of non-producers, but starved of 
the ambitious and the able, who might otherwise be 
employed in enhancing productiveness. It is, in com- 
parison, ignorant, because the position of the priest- 
hood rests, in the last resort, upon an assumption 
that is unproved — the assumption of their superior 
knowledge of the designs of the Deity, and influence 
upon them. This assumption is unproved. It rests 
upon authority and prescription ; and the effect of 
investigation, in whatever direction it may be 
pushed, is to break down the influence of authority 
and prescription, and to issue, urbi et orbi, a writ of 
quo warranto. For this reason, the power and 
influence of a priesthood rests upon the suppression 
of investigation ; and in fact we find that, wherever 
priesthood has prevailed, — wherever a people has 
been priest-ridden— there investigation has been 
suppressed. I do not say — I am far from saying — 
that the suppression of investigation has been 
prompted by any conscious articulate notion, such 
as has just been formulated, of the effect of investiga- 
tion on the power of the priesthood. In this, as in 
so many other matters, it does not in the least follow 
that a course of conduct is followed because of any 
clear anticipation of the beneficial results that do in 
fact flow from it. It is followed because it is grateful, 
pleasurable, and congenial to the actor ; and the 


beneficial consequence may never be recognised or 
appreciated ; but the fact that it is beneficial goes to 
enhance the lifeworthiness of the actor, and to ensure 
that those who are prone to act in that way, shall 
survive and prevail over those who act otherwise. 
If there ever were a priesthood that approved and 
welcomed investigation into anything whatever, that 
priesthood would thereby be digging a pit for its 
own feet, and preparing for its own downfall. The 
only priesthoods that have prevailed, have been those 
that have discouraged investigation ; and it matters 
not to the eff'ect, whether the discouragement pro- 
ceeded from a clear foresight of the result of per- 
mitting investigation ; or from an unreasoned 
prejudice ; or, what is probably most often the 
case, from a dim and uneasy apprehension of some 
untoward result. That the Church should have 
ordered the destruction of the works of Aristotle, and 
even of Aquinas ; that it should have discountenanced 
Roger Bacon, burnt Bruno, and compelled Galileo to 
recant ; seem to be the very acme of unnecessary and 
wanton obscurantism ; but they were the expression 
of a sound and vital clerical instinct. Once permit 
the questioning of authority, upon any subject what- 
ever, and the very basis of authority is destroyed. 
Once admit the existence of doubt as to the validity 
of the most unimportant detail of doctrine ; it is the 
crack in the dam. It is but the breadth of a hair ; 
the water percolates through it but in dew ; but 
unless it is speedily amended, the whole dam will 
give way, and a roaring torrent will overwhelm the 
valley. The maintenance of a priesthood in plenary 


power, must mean the preservation of ignorance in 

the nation that maintains that priesthood ; and in 

the struggle for existence among nations, caeteins 

paribus, the ignorant goes down before the instructed. 

Thirdly, a priest-ridden people is a people divided 

in allegiance. If we consider the factors, we see that 

it must be so. If we examine history, we find that 

it has been so. If we look around us, we find that it 

is so. The secular government and the priesthood 

struggle for supremacy ; and a large part of the 

energies of every young community, and of many 

communities that are well past their youth, is 

engaged in a conflict between the secular and the 

sacerdotal power. Such internecine strife detracts, 

of course, from the efficiency of the external strife 

with other tribes or nations, from which no tribe or 

nation is free for long ; and from the efficiency of 

the struggle with other circumstances, which never 

ceases. The particular form that the struggle for 

supremacy takes, or rather the pretext on which 

it turns, varies in difi'erent cases. The priesthood 

invariably claims exemption from military service 

and other burdens which the secular government 

requires of its subjects ; and one cause or pretext of 

quarrel is the limit of these exemptions. The 

priesthood invariably claims jurisdiction in certain 

matters ; and another cause or pretext of quarrel is 

the limit of this jurisdiction. Whatever the occasion 

of any particular quarrel, each party claims the 

allegiance to itself of the whole community, and thus 

allegiance is divided more or less unequally between 


362 CONDUCT book n 

From this digressive discussion of the origin and 
influence of priesthood let us return to that mode of 
religious observance which is conducted vicariously. 
We have seen how the priesthood tend more and 
more to monopolise religious observance, and to 
make it more and more unintelligible to the laity ; 
while the congregation tends more and more to 
become a mere utterer of aniens. On both sides the 
observance becomes mechanical ; but on the side of 
the laity it becomes not only mechanical, but 
impersonal ; and not only impersonal, but meaning- 
less. The worshipper who finds that his worship is 
taken out of his mouth, and conducted for him, and 
that he is denied all part except that of giving assent, 
is apt to consider that assent may be taken for 
granted, or given vicariously, or sufficiently signified 
by a pecuniary payment for a certain amount of 
ceremonial, which he is under no obligation to 
attend. First he purchases the services of an expert 
to perform for him his religious obligations ; and 
then, realising how mechanical these observances are 
become, he purchases or constructs a mechanism that 
can do all that is necessary without putting him 
to trouble ; and thus the fervent religious votary 
degenerates into the user of a prayer wheel. 

Excess of religious observance is not very easy to 
estimate. Being an indirectly vital mode of conduct, 
it must yield precedence to the directly vital 
activities, and be content with the occupation of that 
time, that remains over after vital needs are satisfied. 
It is obvious that this must be so, for, if the directly 
vital needs are not attended to, the individual will 


perish, and religious observances will fail for want 
of an observer. This holds good, however, of self- 
conservative conduct only. The biological value of 
religion is in the encourajj^ement that it affords to 
social conduct, at the expense mainly of reproductive 
conduct, but largely of self-conservative conduct also. 
It is in the inculcation and enforcement of self- 
restraint, that the biological value of religion consists ; 
and self-restraint, like any other mode of conduct, 
may be pushed to excess, and attain a degree of 
asceticism that endangers life. Among the primary 
self-conservative activities, is prehension of food, and 
the self-restraint that religion inculcates, is commonly 
extended to the practice of fasting, which may be 
pushed to an excess that endangers life. Another 
primary self-conservative activity is the maintenance 
of personal cleanliness, and the blind antagonism to 
self-conservation that is prompted by religion, may 
extend to personal cleanliness ; so that the grade of 
holiness may be measured by the degree in which 
personal cleanliness is disregarded, and even outraged. 
Thus the medieval Christian ascetics were notoriously 
dirty. Thomas a Becket was acclaimed a saint as 
soon as it was found that his body was swarming 
with vermin ; and to this day, the fanatics of some 
Asian religions are distinguished by their addiction 
to dirt. Self- conservation demands freedom from 
personal injury, and prompts the avoidance of pain, 
which is the signal of danger to life. The antagonism 
to self-conservation that is prompted by religion, 
teaches the suffering of pain rather than its 
avoidance ; and even goes farther, and prompts to 


the self-infliction of pain, injury, and even mutilation. 
Important mutilation, the amputation of hand or 
foot, or even of fingers, if widely practised as a 
religious rite, would be so disadvantageous, as to 
secure the failure of the community, in which it was 
practised, to survive ; but an innocuous mutilation 
would satisfy the religious craving for the defiance of 
self-conservation, without really impairing the life- 
worthiness of those on whom it is practised. Such a 
mutilation is circumcision ; and we find, accordingly, 
that circumcision, as a religious rite, is widely 
practised, and has obtained in several distinct 
communities. Whether the distortion of the feet of 
Chinese women had a religious origin, I do not know ; 
but such an origin seems more probable than the 
motive, il faut souffrir pour etre belle ; and the case 
of circumcision shows that the limitation to one sex 
does not negative its religious character. The modi- 
fication of the shape of the head, by compression of 
the skull in infancy, which has been found to prevail 
in certain primitive peoples, is, no doubt, a religious 
rite, on a level with circumcision. 

The same motive — the subordination of self- 
conservative conduct, in order that social conduct 
may have full play — inspires the various fantastic 
self-torturings of the religious devotee. This motive 
is at the root of the conduct of St. Simeon Stylites ; 
of the Flagellants ; the Trappists ; the fanatics who 
go for miles upon their knees ; who stare at the sun 
from the rising up of the same until the going down 
thereof; who cut themselves after their manner, 
with knives and lancets ; who lie upon spikes ; and 



practise other ingenious modes of self-torment. Of 
course, it is not contended that the fanatics who 
inflict these injuries upon themselves, do so with any- 
conscious intention of thereby favouring social 
conduct. What is contended is that self-restraint is 
of immense importance to the common welfare — to 
the very existence of the community — and social life 
is impossible without the exertion of self-restraint. 
Self-restraint having once become an ingredient in 
the mental constitution of mankind, the natural 
course of variation will ensure that in some indi- 
viduals it will be defective, and in others excessive ; 
and the instances adduced are instances of its excess. 
The priests of Baal, who cut themselves after their 
manner with knives and lancets, no more knew that 
they were exhibiting in excess a mode of conduct 
conducive to social welfare, than the child who eats 
till it is sick, knows that it is indulging to excess in a 
mode of conduct conducive to individual welfare ; or 
the blushing maiden, who shrinks from the gaze of 
her lover, knows that she is practising conduct that 
is conducive to racial continuance ; but these are the 
roots of the respective acts, nevertheless. 

The welfare and stability of the community are 
imperilled, no less by unbridled racial conduct, than 
by uncontrolled self-regarding conduct ; and religion, 
which is, biologically, an adjuvant to social con- 
servatism, is antagonistic no less to racial than to 
self-regarding conduct. Generally speaking, religions 
frown upon the reproductive function, and seek to 
keep it within bounds ; and this restriction, which is 
biologically valuable and advantageous, easily slips 


into total prohibition, which is of course racially 
suicidal. Chastity is a social asset of high import- 
ance ; and religion, the guardian of social life, 
inculcates chastity among the primary obligations. 
Not realising its social function, but regarding its 
code as an absolute standard, religion often fails to 
recognise that there may be too much of a good 
thing, and is apt to inculcate, not chastity only, but 
celibacy. Universal celibacy would of course be 
racially destructive ; but such occasional and indi- 
vidual celibacy as some religions inculcate, is not to 
be deprecated, for it is an object-lesson of what is 
attainable. The inculcation of an austere chastity, 
which it is the function of religion to instil, might 
be met, explicitly or implicitly, with the objection 
that it is a counsel of perfection, to which mere man 
cannot be expected to attain. Such an objection is 
demolished if religion can point to votaries who are 
not merely chaste, but altogether celibate. Thus, 
although celibacy is prima facie biologically un- 
justifiable, yet occasional celibates within a com- 
munity have their social use, just as neuter insects, 
which, as solitaries, would become speedily extinct, 
become, as members of a community, vitally im- 
portant to the preservation of the race. Nor must 
it be forgotten that the celibate members of a nation 
are not wholly debarred from racial conduct in the 
wide sense. In many cases, the religious celibate, 
like the neuter insect, performs parental functions. 
For many generations in Western Europe, the educa- 
tion of the young was conducted solely by religious 
celibates. For centuries, the only schools were those 


attached to the monasteries, and conducted by the 
monks. It is only within the memory of those now 
living, that religious celibates ceased to have the 
monopoly of teaching in our Universities ; and to 
this day, convent schools are among the best of 
teaching institutions. 

Excess may be exhibited, not only in observing 
the behests of religion, but also in devotion to its 
ceremonial. What frequency of prayer, and of 
attendance at public worship, is to be regarded as 
excessive, would be differently estimated by different 
persons ; but there are few who would not regard in 
this light the conduct of a young solicitor, who knelt 
in his father's waiting-room, and prayed aloud for the 
welfare and success of the clients who were there 
awaiting an interview with his father. The practice 
of saying grace before meat, and of invoking a bless- 
ing on what is about to be consumed, is decorous and 
seemly ; but when a person repeats a grace aloud 
before each mouthful that he eats, it can scarcely be 
denied that the ceremonial is excessive. It is curious 
that the patient who acted in this way was a young 
man who had been brought up by aggressively 
agnostic parents, and had been taught to despise and 
deride religious ceremonial of every kind. 

Biologically, therefore, the function of religion is 
to safeguard the community, by restricting those 
modes of action that conflict with social conduct. 
It is the inculcator of morality, of self-restraint, and 
of regard for others. If its inculcations are apt to 
become excessive, it is because religion does not 
recognise its biological function, and certainly would 

368 CONDUCT book n 

not admit that this function is its primary purpose. 
This is a matter that would be out of place to discuss 
here. It is quite beside the purpose of this book, 
and does not enter into its purview, which is to 
regard conduct from a'point of view strictly biological, 
to show the biological value of every mode of conduct, 
and how every mode of conduct can be accounted for 
on biological grounds. 

There is, however, another connexion between 
racial conduct and religion, besides that which has 
been noticed. Religion not only inculcates the 
restriction and limitation of racial conduct, but 
provides for it a substitute and an alternative. The 
enforcement of celibacy on the religious devotee, is 
not merely a sign and manifestation of the primary 
biologic function of religion, to promote and enhance 
social conduct by deprecating racial, as well as self- 
conservative conduct ; it is also a recognition of the 
vital principle that human energy and interest, if 
debarred from expending themselves in racial conduct, 
must find an outlet in some other direction. Religious 
observance provides an alternative, into which the 
amatory instinct can be easily and naturally diverted. 
The emotion, or instinctive desire, which finds expres- 
sion in courtship, is a vast body of vague feeling, 
which is at first undirected. It is not specifically 
directed towards any individual ; and may not have, 
at any rate at first, any sexual direction at all. It 
is a vague yearning for self-sacrifice ; for aesthetic 
display, and aesthetic contemplation ; for self-renun- 
ciation in its various manifestations ; for the donation 
of gifts, and the rendering of services ; for the ex- 


pression of enthusiasm. It is a voluminous state of 
exaltation, that demands enthusiastic action. This is 
the state antecedent to falling in love ; and, if an 
object presents himself or herself, the torrent of 
emotion is directed into amatory passion. But, if 
no object appears, or if the selected object is denied, 
then religious observance yields a very passable sub- 
stitute for the expression of the emotion. Religious 
observance provides the sensuous atmosphere, the 
aesthetic surroundings, the call for self-renunciation, 
the means of expressing powerful and voluminous 
feeling, that the potential or disappointed lover 
needs. The madrigal is transmuted into the hymn ; 
that adornment of the person that should have gone 
to allure the beloved, now takes the shape of ecclesias- 
tical vestments ; the reverence that would have been 
paid to the loved, is transferred to a higher object ; 
the enthusiasm that would have been expended in 
courtship, is expressed in worship ; the gifts that 
would have been made, the services that would have 
been rendered to the loved one, are transferred to the 
Church. Hence we find that religious observance 
and courtship, are to some extent complementary, 
and are closely connected. We find, not only that 
celibacy is inculcated as a religious observance, but 
that religious ceremonial is most observed by the 
celibate. We find, not only that the most enthusi- 
astic clergy are celibate, even when celibacy of the 
clergy is not compulsory ; but that it is among 
celibates, and especially among the disappointed in 
love, that their most enthusiastic followers are found. 
We find that while women, to whom marriage means 


370 CONDUCT bookh 

so much more than it means to men, are naturally 
more devoted to religious observance than men are ; 
celibate women are much more devoted than married 
women ; the maiden devotee loses much of her en- 
thusiasm when she marries ; and the girl who is 
disappointed in love, takes naturally to a life of 
religious observance. 


a Becket, Thomas, 100, 363 
Absolute prodigality, 117 
Accumulation, 33, 79, 120 
Action, abundant, 9 

automatic, 55, 58 

crude, 68 

deliberate, 50 

elaborate, 68 

elicited, 3, 14 

habitual, 55 

imitative, 64, 184, 193 

impulsive, 50 

instinctive, 12, 43 

involuntary, 53 

novel, 55, 64 

original, 64 

reasoned, 12, 43 

scanty, 9 

self-indulgent, 44, 169 

self-restrained, 44, 169 

spontaneous, 3 

voluntary, 53 
Active morality, 261 

opposition, 104 
Adaptation of action, 5, 14, 38 
Administration of means, 115, 249 
Admiration, 145, 147, 150 
Adultery, 252 
Adventurous conduct, 107 
Aesthetic conduct, 85, 316, 325 
Aggressive conduct, 246, 275 

opposition, 104 
Agoraphobia, 107 
Albigenses, 193 
Alcohol, 91 
Allurement in courtship, 293, 299 

Ambition, 129, 145, 152, 165, 237, 

Amceba, conduct of, 3 
Anarchism, 164 

Antagonism of authority and in- 
vestigation, 360 
of religion and self-preservation, 

349, 363 
and racial conduct, 349, 352, 365 
of social and self- preservative 

conduct, 220, 288 
of social and racial conduct, 288 
of self- preservative and racial 

conduct, 288 
ways of meeting, 101, 103 
Anthropoid ancestors of man, 108 
Anticipation of motive, 31, 160, 171, 

Ants, 83 

Applause and conduct, 148-9, 156 
Approval and morality, 145, 156, 

160, 169, 171, 173, 338 
Ardour of male in courtship, 290, 

Aristotle, 360 
Arrogance, 149, 154 
Asceticism, 47, 90, 100, 348, 363 
Assault, 245 

Astronomy, origin of, 334 
Athletics and suicide, 172 
Attention and conduct, 139, 142 / 
Authority and morality, 174 
and investigation, 359, 
and religion, 359 

Baal, priests of, 365 
371 2 B 2 



Baboons, social conduct of, 262 
Backbiting, 251 
Bacon, Francis, 147 

Roger, 260, 360 
Balfour, Sir G., on drink, 91 
Baynes, General, 188 
Beating the bounds, 32 
Beauty, means economy, 336 
Beaver, conduct of, 45, 120 
Bees, instinct of, 15, 17, 134 

reason of, 18, 38, 44, 62 
Bell-ringing, instinctive, 34 
Beneficence, 129, 261-6, 228 
Benevolence, 182 
Bibliophile, and theft, 122 
Birds, instinct of, 17, 62 

reason of, 21, 42, 62 

social conduct of, 262 
Bivalves, conduct of, 24 
Black Dwarf, the, 132 
Blacklegs, 167 
Boasting, 150, 154 
Borgia, 252 

Bottom the weaver, 144 
Bower-bird, 121 
Bragging, 150, 154 
Briuvilliers, Marquise, 232 
Bruno, Giordano, 260, 360 

Capital, origin of, 121 

punishment, 199 
Carelessness, 245 
Carlyle, T., 154 
Caste, 206 
Cat, reason in, 39 
Cattle, 41, 262 
Celibacy, 295-7 

and religion, 366, 369 
Ceremonial, 316 
Change of custom, 210, 213 

of fashion, 217 
Character, force of, 187, 219 
Charm of manner, 185 
Chartism, 163 
Chastity, 146, 168, 274, 366 

in the male, 280 

social value of, 278 
Children, protected by all, 263 

Choice and reason, 46 

Church bells, 34 

Churchill, Lord R., 141 

Circumcision, 364 

Claustrophobia, 107, 110 

Cleanliness, 99 

Climbing trees, 320 

Collecting, 33, 79, 120 

Combat, instinct of, 80 

Common Law, and custom, 200 

Common life, inhibitory, 134-6 

Companionship, necessity of, 130 

Conceit, 145, 149 

Concubinage, 261 

Conduct, factors in, 7, 15, 25, 36, 
47, 217 
spontaneous, 6, 217 

Conformity, 134, 191, 203, 254 

Conscientiousness, excess of, 246 

Conservatism, 335 

Coprophagy, 89 

Corporate action, 203 

Coughing, 53 

Counter-attack, 104 

Courtship, 289 

Criminal law, 13 

Criminals, 175 

Crowds, conduct of, 201 

Crude action, 68 

Curiosity, 28, 85, 260, 265, 333, 341 

Custom, 129, 191, 205 et seq. 

Daintiness, 90 
Dancer, Daniel, 119 
Danger and curiosity, 335 

conduct in, 101 
Danger-cry, 102 
Darwin, 80 

Decalogue, the, 244, 249 
Defaecation, 54 
Deliberate action, 50 
Deliberation, 52 
Desire, 77 

Diarists, indiscretions of, 137 
Disapproval avoided, 155, 158, 169 

how incurred, 155, 173, 243 
Disease, 97 
Disesteem, 145-7 



Dishonesty, 248 

Dislike, 145 

Disorder of conduct, 86 

Divorce, 252 

Dogs, 30, 102, 120, 123, 124 

Dramatic interest, 85, 344 

Dreyfus case, 163 

Drunkards, kinds of, 94 

Drunkenness, 92 

Duelling, 201 

Duty, 157 

Earning of livelihood, 115 

Eating, 78 

Egotistic conduct, 226 

Elaborate action, 5, 25 

Elicited conduct, 5 ■ 

Elicited morality, 129, 155, 243 

Elicited social conduct, 128 

Elwes, John, 119, 120 

Endogamy, 276 

Ends, 28, 30, 77, 79 

Envy, 235 

Epileptic automatism, 69 

Esquimaux, 350 

Esteem, 145-8 

Evil speaking, 250 

Examinations and suicide, 112 

Exclusive possession, 299 

Exogamy, 276 

Explanation, meaning of, 240 

Facility, 188 

Factors in conduct, 7, 15 

Failure, effects of, on others, 151 

Faithfulness of wives, 277 

FalUng in love, 291 

Falstatf, 146 

Familiarity and curiosity, 334 

Family, the social unit, 274 

sanctity of, important, 277 
Fashion, 129, 191, 254 
Fashion and custom, 194-5 

change of, 217 
Fasting, 90 

Female, in courtship, 289, 293 
Fighting, honoured, 165 
Filial conduct, 173, 311 

First love, 292 

Fishing, 321 

Flight from danger, 103 

Foker, Mr., 147 

Food, selection of, 86 

Force of character, 187, 219 

Forks, 98 

Fossilisation of reason, 30 

Foundation of morality, 158, 202 

Fox-hunting, 321 

Freedom, and social life, 134 

Friendship, 223 

Galileo, 260, 360 
Games, 197, 317, 321 
Gentleman, natural, 184 
Geophagy, 89 
George IV,, 198 
Glory, desire for, 146 
Gluttony, 90 
Good manners, 184 
Good spirits, 184 
Grace of motion, 323 

Habitual drunkenness, 92, 94 
Hammurabi, 229 
Hamster, 103, 262 
Helmholtz, 325 
Hermaphroditism, 294 
Hermits, 131 
High breeding, 251 
Howard, John, 147 
Huguenots, 193 

Idiocy, 89, 99, 114, 126 
Illness, mollifying effect of, 263 
Imbeciles, 99, 115, 126 
Imbecility, moral, 178 
Imitation, 64-7, 184 
Income and expenditure, 115-18 
Incongruity and curiosity, 334-8 
Independence of character, 227 
Indirectly vital conduct, 314 
Inebriates, 95 
Inebriety, 97 
Infantile conduct, 4 
Inheritance of acquired qualities, 60, 



Inhibition, 46, 160 

by attention, 139 

social, 129, 133-6 
Innovation, a source of weakness, 164 
Inquisition, the, 175 
Insect communities, 286 
Insects, neuter, 286 
Instinct, 12, 27, 80-86, 78, 83 

disorder of, 86 

self-regarding, 270, 288 
Instinct of combat, 80 
Instinct of property, 123 
Instinct, social, 130 
Instinctive action, 13, 44, 50, 59, 

Instinctive and crude action, 69 
Intolerance, religious, 253-8 
Intoxication, 92 
Investigation, 86, 315, 333-6, 342 

and authority, 359 

and religion, 359 
Irreligion, in towns, 355 

Jackdaw, hoarding by, 121 
Jealous conduct, 299 
Jealousy, 275, 300 
Johnson, Dr., on toleration, 256 
Justice, 222 

King, attacks on the, 161 
Kittens, play in, 321 
Knowledge, meaning of, 340 
Kruger, President, 162 

Lamb, Charles, 121 

Latin, teaching of, 35, 206, 210 

Law and custom, 200 

object of, 272 
Leading, 129, 186, 219 
Liking, 145, 181 
Linnaeus, 342 
Liquidation of instinct, 36 
Livelihood, earning, 115 
Love, 283-5 

at first sight, 296 
Lowe, Robert, 141 
Lust, 283 

Macaulay, 295, 331 
Malefactors, treatment of, 231 
Maleficence, 129, 228 
Marital conduct, 304 
Marriage, mixed, 198 
Martyrs, 172, 177 
Matty, Miss, 250 
Maxwell, Clerk, 343 
Meanness, 118, 119, 227 
Means, administration of, 115 
Meg Merrilies, on death, 263 
Misalliance, 146, 198, 291 
Mill, J. S., on toleration, 256 
Misanthropy, 129 
Miserliness, 115-18 
Modesty, sexual, 274, 283 
Mohammedans, polygamy of, 281 
Mole, reasoning in, 40 
Monandry, 277 

Monasticism, corruptions of, 295 
Monkeys, social conduct of, 262 
Monks, misconduct of, 131 
Moral conduct, 155 
Moral imbecility, 179 
Morality and authority, 174 

doctrine of, 173 

elicited, 155, 242 

foundation of, 158, 242 

nature of, 272 

spontaneous, 136, 167, 242, 261, 
Morals and religion, 334 
Motion, in nervous system, 4 
Motive, anticipation of, 31, 160, 171, 

Murder, 156, 245 
Murderers, 231, 233 
Mussels, 82 
Mutilation and religion, 364 

Napoleon, 147, 152, 163 

Neuter insects, 286 

New Dispensation, the, 252, 261 

Newton, 342 

Nidification, 17, 21, 37, 62 

Notoriety, love of, 145 

Obedience, filial, 311 



Obligation, sense of, 223 
Obstinacy, 189 
Occam's razor, 60, 61 
Occasional drunkards, 96 
Old maids, 292 
Opinion, toleration of, 257 
Oral expression, 136 
Originality, 64 
Overflow of instinct, 209 

Paralysing eS'ect of danger, 101, 105 

of attention, 140-41 
Paranoia, 246 
Parental care, 173 

conduct, 306 
Paroxysmal drunkards, 95 
Parturition, 53 
Passive opposition, 104 
Patriotism, 129, 163-6, 236-40 
Pepys, 137 

Perversion of conduct, 87 
Philanthropy, 129, 240 
Pickard, 67 
Pilgrim Fathers, 193 
Pious conduct, 313 
Pitt, 238 

Play, 71, 317, 322 
Pleasure and liking, 182 
Politicians, motives of, 165, 237 
Polyandry, 276 
Polygamy, 281 
Popish Plot, 163 
Pose, 142 

Presence of others inhibitory, 136 
Pride, 139, 145, 149 
Priesthood, 295 
Priest-ridden nations, 308 
Primrose, Moses, 116 
Privation of companionship, 130 
Privilege, legal, 251 
Prodigality, 49, 115 
Property, 123 
Provocation, 275 
Punishment, 230 
Puritan conduct, 49, 259, 310 
Purposes, 77-81 

Race, importance of, 172, 269 

Racial conduct, 288 

continuance, 80 

instincts, 83 
Rat, reason in, 40, 120-21, 262 
Reason, 12 

and choice, 46 

increase of, 37 
Reasoned imitation, 67 
Reciprocation of conduct, 221 
Recklessness, 245 
Recreation and play, 317 

importance of, 221, 324 
Recreative conduct, 7, 84, 316-24 
Reflex action, 6 
Reid, Dr. Archdall, 91 
Relative prodigality, 116-17 
Religion and asceticism, 363 

authority, 359 

biological function of, 352, 367 

investigation, 347, 359 

morality, 157, 354 

nature of, 86, 347 

social value of, 315, 349 
Religious ceremonial, 347, 352 

conduct, 354, 362-7 

instinct, 86 

intolerance, 253-8 

observance, 357 

sanction, 352 
Remuneration and work, 268, 318 
Renunciation and social life, 267 
Repetition of action, 56 
Reproduction and self-sacrifice, 288 
Retaliation, 225, 228 
Reversal of conduct, 87, 313 

of instinct, 87, 111, 308 
Reward of toil, 268, 318 
Richardson, novels of, 204 
Right and wrong, 159, 161, 170-75 
Robbery, 156 
Robins, instinct of, 123 
Roman law and custom, 200 
Running, 61 
Ruskin, 154 

Sacrifice and social life, 257 
Sanction, religious, 252, 271, 280 
social, 271, 279 



St. Dominic, 147 

St. Francis, 147 

St. Simeon Stylites, 364 

Sanitation, duty of, 245 

Satiation mth drink, 93, 94 

Scepticism, in towns, 356 

Self-approval, 170 

-conscious conduct, 179 

-conservation, 79, 82, 88, 289 

-control, 49, 93 

-denial, 47 

-depreciation, 152-4 

-indulgence, 47, 134, 169 

-injury. 111 

-possession, 144 

-regarding, and social instincts, 
270, 288 

-restraint, 47, 118, 169, 183, 243, 
252, 288, 365 

-sacrifice, 131, 257, 270, 288 

-torture, 49 
Sexual modesty, 274, 282-6 

qualities, intermingled, 294, 296 
Shadwell, Dr., 91 
Sheep, why unintelligent, 41 
Showing-off, 142 
Shyness, 129, 143, 189, 250 
Singing of birds, 62 
Skating, 56 
Skilful action, 73 
Skill, 73 

Skilled action, 73 
Snails, eating of, 69 
Sneezing, 53 
Sobriety, 93 

Social and self-regarding instincts, 
270, 288 

bees, 134 

conduct, 128 

inhibition, 129, 133 

insects and religion, 351 
Social instincts, 82, 129, 131-3 

life, advantage of, 82, 288 
Soldiers, popularity of, 165 
Solitary confinement, 130 
Spectator, the, 12 

Spider, conduct of, 15, 18, 38, 44, 62 
Spiders' webs, 15, 18, 37 

Spoilt children, 309 
Spontaneous action, 3, 25 

conduct, 3 

morality, 156, 167, 242-6, 261 

patriotism, 163, 236 

social conduct, 128 
Sports, 319 

Squirrel, hoarding by, 120 
Stage fright, 141 
Standard of beauty, 329 
Starvation of the soul, 131 
Stealing, 248 
Stimulants, 91 

Stirp, preservation of, 172, 314 
Strife in societies, gregicidal, 275 
Struggle for existence, 82 
Suavity, 129, 181 
Subordination, 129, 186 
Success, effect of, 147, 234 
Suicide, double, 302 

from jealousy, 301 

motives of, 112, 114, 247 
Suttee, 198 
Swift, Dean, 295 
Swooning, a fashion, 204 

Tact, 186, 251 
Tests, religious, 253 
Timidity, 107 
Timon of Athens, 132 
Tolerance, 253-8 
Traitors, 162, 164, 239 
Trappists, 364 
Treason, 129, 161, 239 

Unchastity, 168, 170-73 
Uncleanliness, 100 
Unemployment, 125 
Unfamiliarity and curiosity, 334 
Unskilful action, 73 
Unskilled action, 73 
Urination, 54 
Uxorious conduct, 306 

Valetudinarianism, 107 
Vanity, 129, 145, 149 
Vermin, 100 
Vindictiveness, 225 



Violence, 246 
Volition and conduct, 7 
Voluntary action, 53, 57 
Vomiting, 53, 90 

Walking, 56, 61, 65 
War, 274 
Watt, James, 67 
Weak, protection of, 262-6 
Wealth, 269, 275 
Wilfulness, 312 

Will of the community, 259 
William IV., 198 
Witchcraft, 175 
Woman, a monogamist, 293 
Work and play, 71, 317, 322 

and reward, 317 
Writing, 56 

Written and oral expression, 136 
Wrong, nature of, 161 

Yielding to force, 103 


Ptintedby R. & R. Claiw, Limited, Edinburgh. 


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Part I. Functions of the Nervous System. 

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Chap. I. The Nervous Discharge. 
II. The Nervous Resistance. 

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IV. Movements. 
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VI. The Nervous Mechanism of Co-ordination and 

Part II. Functions of the Nervous System. 

Chap. VII. Conduct. 

VIII. The Nervous Mechanism of Conduct. 

Part III. Mind. 

Chap. IX. The Constitution of Mind. 

X. Thought. 

XI. Feeling. 

XII. Classification of Feelings. 

XIII. Classification of Feelings {continued). 

XIV. Classification of Feelings {continued). 

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IX. Diseases of the Skin. 25s. net. 3^ 


Writers. Edited by Sir Clifford Allbutt, KCB., 
M.D., W. S. Playfair, M.D., and Thomas Watts 
Eden, M.D. 8vo. 25s. net. 


This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

MAY Z 1 \^6^ 

OCT 2 1 1946 

MAR 2 4 1976 

Form L-9-15w-7,'31 



3 1158 00019 3986 

AA 000 508 305 




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